The hustle of cooking gas ending midway through preparing a meal forcing one to make a dash to the nearest dealer or bring out the kerosene cooker tucked deep in some kitchen cupboard, could soon end.
This is what Safaricom, through partnership with M-Gas are looking to tackle with their newly launched prepaid gas service which is aimed at providing low-income households with flexible cooking gas purchases depending on their needs.
“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,” Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph said.
Data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows refilling a 13kg cylinder currently costs about Sh2,200.
Through the smart meter technology, customers will be able to purchase gas from as low as Sh1 via M-Pesa, with the average cost of providing three meals a day valued at less than Sh70 per day.
Through the partnership, users will be provided with a gas cylinder and a two-burner gas cooker at no upfront cost.
The smart meter will be attached to the gas cylinder, indicating how much gas a customer has paid for and how much is remaining, similar to the electricity token system.
Payments will be made via M-Pesa with the gas automatically disconnecting when a customer has completely consumed the amount paid for.
The smart meter will also be able to send an alert to M-Gas each time the gas runs low upon which M-Gas will deliver a refilled replacement to the customer’s home at no additional cost.
“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,” M-Gas managing director Volker Schultz said.
The initiative is aimed at providing low-income households with a smoke-free cooking alternative, eliminating the health challenges that arise from the use of firewood, charcoal and Kerosene to prepare meals.
According to the World Health Organization approximately 21,500 deaths occur annually due to respiratory diseases, with 40 per cent of Kenya’s health burden caused largely by indoor pollution due to reliance on smoke-emitting fuels.
Meanwhile, the Petroleum Institute of East Africa has been pushing for introduction of piped LPG gas into housing units.
In partnership with the government, the two mooted plans to do away with cooking gas cylinders in residential areas last April in line with the state’s housing project, a plan that has stalled since 2011.