Kenya Power & Lighting Company (KPLC), the national distributor of electricity is converting customers in many parts of the country from post-use billing and payment to a (prepaid) pre-usage payment.
One KPLC challenge for many years has been revenue collection, but that has changed since signed they signed up banks and supermarkets like Uchumi (some at a cost of ~ Kshs 50 per bill paid) and other outlets where customers can pay.
Payment: You can buy electricity tokens from some KPLC offices, but it is easier to pay by mobile money Safaricom’s ‘M-Pesa’ or ‘Airtel Money’ zap. You load money into M-Pesa, send it to KPLC, and in about an hour you get a 20 21-digit number that you punch into the meter for an immediate update of electricity credits.
Orientation: None at all! One day you come home and find workmen in the corridor doing a lot of re-wiring (at first I thought the landlord was installing fibre to the block, but it turned out to be KPLC’s sub-contractors) and the next day, you come home and find the watchman with a booklet for you to read and study on the pre-pay system! The booklet has been quite useful, but it omitted a process where you have to call KPLC to link your old meter and new meter numbers – in order to activate the new meter.
Cost: None to the customer, and the brochures say the cost of usage should be the same, and so far I’m on par at about Kshs 500 ($6) per week.
The meter also has some commands that you can use to check out your usage at any given time (a fluctuating 80W) and usage since installation – 100Kwh in three weeks. What I miss (for tracking inflation is a breakdown of usage, fuel surcharges and other taxes that form anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of every bill, and
-  cost of collection which may vary from Airtel to Safaricom) i.e it cost Kshs 20 to pay by M-Pesa
- In order to pay by M-Pesa, you have to know your meter number. (so save it in your phone)
- The cost of electricity has gone up by ~45% in a month i.e in mid-April a ‘unit’ of electricity cost Kshs 9.8 and in mid-May, it’s Kshs 14.2.