Capital FM (Nairobi)

13 December 2012

Kenya Power to Upgrade Pre-Paid Billing

Kenya Power has announced plans to upgrade its pre-paid billing system to reduce the continued technical hitches experienced by consumers.

Most of the customers have complained of occasional failure even after loading credit into the pre-paid meters, while others have often complained of being unable to load credits onto the meter.

Kenya power Managing Director Joseph Njoroge however insists that the system is still in its initial stages and the company is working on sealing the loopholes.

"This is a new a technology. When buying credit, you are using a mobile phone and communication may fail at the time of buying. These are challenges which are always there for a new system but we are addressing them as time goes by," Njoroge assured.

Njoroge also told Capital FM Business of the inconveniences caused by vandalism of power and telecommunication cables.

"There was a Bill on vandalism which was passed and escalated punishment for vandalism culprits and we have already seen some people who have been jailed for 10 years. This is the best way to mitigate this vandalism so that the thieves will be completely discouraged," Njoroge said.

According to the amended Energy Act, a person convicted of vandalism will be liable to a minimum fine of Sh5 million or a jail term of not less than 10 years, or both. On the other hand, anyone found stealing power will also be subject to a similar sentence.

A consumer satisfaction survey conducted by Strategic Business Options established that consumers like the pre-paid meter because it is convenient, cheaper and easy to top up.

However others said they dislike the pre-paid meters due to limited points of sale where one can buy tokens, delays in topping up through mobile money transfer, long digits or codes and varying rates of units for the same amount.

The country's electricity distributor has so far installed over 164,000 prepaid meters and the ongoing shift of the billing system is expected to boost its cash flow and reduce costs by eliminating meter readers.

The system was launched in 2009 and deployed in selected areas mostly in Nairobi in the pilot phase. Njoroge said in the second phase starting next year, Kenya Power will be going nationwide with approximately 500,000 meters.

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