Safaricom is no stranger to trying new things. After collaborating with the Postal Corporation of Kenya to bring P.O. Box addresses to anybody with a Safaricom mobile number and partnering with EABL to dispatch smart fridges to customers, today’s announcement takes the same route with a product named M-Gas that will see customers access cooking gas at an affordable price and flexible payment model.
The development, which the carrier calls an innovation, is fronted to empower millions of Kenyan homes to get access to clean (LPG is as clean as they come), affordable and dependable cooking gas. The idea of the product is primarily affordability, of which Safaricom says that it will drop upfront costs. Existing solutions, for instance, require customers to buy a cylinder at no less than KES 4000. This will not be the case with M-Gas, which will also go ahead and throw in a 2-burner gas cooker.
The M-Gas cylinder is equipped with a smart meter that shows how much a customer has paid for, and how much money is remaining. Once the payment is exhausted, the cylinder is shut off until the next payment is made.
Of course, payments are done via Safaricom’s Lipa na M-PESA. Replenishing your account should reconnect the cylinder so you can continue cooking. The smart metre will also send an alert to a distributor as soon as it’s depleted so that a new cylinder is dispatched.
The technology has been made possible by Narrow Band (NB) IoT network and M-PESA, and is powered by the carrier’s 4G network.
According to Safaricom, the extension of its digital payment capabilities as well as the smart metre technology has been effected to purposely allow low-income households to have control over how they use M-Gas.
Fees and availability
The flexibility of the system allows customers to purchase gas for as little as KES 1.
For the moment, the product will be available for Mukuru Kwa Njenga residents around its first depot. The operators and community-based organizations will help in identifying the next areas for expansion.