Safaricom has invested $22 million (£17m) into UK firm Circle Gas which runs M-Gas in Kenya and Tanzania to launch prepaid gas service for Kenyan households.
M-Gas will allow Kenyan homes to access clean, affordable and reliable cooking gas minus the upfront cost required for a gas cylinder and gas cooker, often more than KES 6,000 and the high refill cost of KES 2,000 per cylinder.
“Safaricom’s partnership with M-Gas will for the first time empower millions of Kenyans with affordable access to clean cooking gas, an opportunity we believe has been previously underserved,” said Michael Joseph, CEO, Safaricom.
Each M-Gas setup will include a gas cylinder and a 2-burner gas cooker which will be provided to customers at no upfront cost. The gas cylinder comes with a smart meter and payments will be made through M-PESA with the gas automatically disconnecting when a customer has completely consumed the amount paid for.
“M-Gas is proud to be working with Safaricom on this pioneering effort to bring affordable, convenient and clean cooking solutions to millions of low-income households in Kenya. Safaricom is a leader in both technology and customer service and we look forward to building on this exciting new partnership,” said Volker Schultz, Head of M-Gas.
Customers will have the flexibility of purchasing gas from as low as KES 1 through M-PESA, with the cost of providing three meals for a household coming at less than KES 70 per day. M-Gas is launching in the Mukuru kwa Njenga area around its first depot.
Gas users will no longer have to grapple with the hassle of managing the replenishment of empty cylinders as the smart meter sends an alert to M-Gas whenever the gas runs low. M-Gas will then dispatch a refilled replacement to the customer, conveniently delivered to the comfort of their homes, at no cost.
According to the World Health Organization, respiratory infections are among the world’s leading cause of premature deaths, with household air pollution from fuels attributed to more than 15,000 early deaths in Kenya every year.
The M-Gas solution has been made possible by Safaricom’s Narrow Band Internet of Things (NB IoT) network and M-PESA. Powered by Safaricom’s robust 4G network, NB IoT provides a low-power, mobile connectivity to devices across the country, including to beverage coolers, allowing for remote monitoring and management.