Kenya Power began investigating the use of prepayment some years back which resulted in a pilot project in April 2009, with 25,000 domestic customers having a prepaid meter installed.
Following the success of the pilot, in March of this year the organisation began a full rollout and in just a few months had already installed some 123,000 prepaid meters. However, Kenya Power’s goal is much larger than that - 520,000 meters by the end of the financial year and they’re well on their way to achieving it!
Part of Kenya Power’s success has been the dedication to improving customer service. For example, a challenge experienced in such a rapid and large roll out programme, was the availability of vending points for consumers to purchase their prepaid electricity.
Thus another innovation for Kenya was born. Rather than sticking to the traditional payment methods, the utility took full advantage of the third party vending concept, whereby other parties are able to sell electricity on behalf of the utility. Soon commercial banks, post offices and supermarkets were selling electricity to consumers, who also had the choice of utilising cellphone technology to make a token purchase.
Research undertaken with consumers, found that the great majority were very pleased with the technology.
One consumer said, “KPLC prepaid is the best option since you pay for the units you need. You don’t have to worry about high re-connection fees in case you get disconnected since you are immediately reconnected upon purchasing power units.”
Whilst others mentioned the convenience and ability to monitor their own usage, the most interesting feedback came back from consumers who were still using the conventional meters, as almost 60% would like to switch to the prepaid system.
As for the future, Kenya Power says that prepayment is a key aspect of their strategy going forward, as they plan to retrofit into the existing consumer market, as well as deploy some 200,000 meters per year to new customers.