Friday, December 3, 2021

Safaricom M-Gas to roll out to more homes across Kenya

Safaricom has announced the expansion of its strategic collaboration with M-Gas as the two firms seek to deliver solutions that transform the lives of even more Kenyans. Provided by Circle Gas, M-Gas is a digital service that leverages Safaricom’s connectivity enabling the purchase of gas through a smart meter.

In a release, the company says the partnership will enable

  • Joint technology development
  • Expertise sharing
  • Co-creation of solutions, and
  • Market support between the two firms.

“M-Gas seeks to bring clean, affordable, convenient and reliable cooking gas to millions of homes in Kenya who have previously been locked out by the prohibitive costs. We are glad to have a unique partner in Safaricom with their wide network and cutting-edge solutions providing the best launchpad for our pay-as-you-go innovation,” said Volker Schultz, CEO of Circle Gas.

The partnership will empower M-Gas in its ambition to bring clean and affordable energy within the reach of millions of Kenyan households. The M-Gas smart meter connects to Safaricom’s Narrow Band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network and accepts payment though M-PESA unlocking the service for millions of customers, in turn driving financial inclusion. The two firms first announced their partnership in January 2020 with Safaricom acquiring an 18.39% stake in Circle Gas.

“Our partnership with M-Gas will bring clean, convenient and affordable gas to millions of Kenyan homes by taking advantage of our connectivity. M-Gas demonstrates how technology can be deployed as a force for good and is further helping us bring to life our purpose of transforming lives, “said Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom.

Beyond providing access to clean and affordable gas to millions of Kenyans, M-Gas equally aims to tackle the health challenges caused by the current reliance on smoke-emitting fuels.

The World Health Organization lists respiratory infections as among the world’s leading cause of premature deaths, with household air pollution from fuels attributed to more than 15,000 early deaths in Kenya every year.

Wood and charcoal fires are leading emitters of the deadly particulate matter (PM2.5) responsible for the pollution-related complications.

Since its launch in January, M-Gas has been expanding its services with one depot in Nairobi’s Mukuru Kwa Njenga neighbourhood with a goal of reaching 10,000 households by October 2020. The company has already enrolled more than 6,500 customers who have logged more than 200,000 cooking hours. In subsequent phases, Circle Gas will expand its solution to more areas within Nairobi and to the rest of the country.

M-Gas relies on Safaricom’s M-PESA and NB-IoT network to manage payments and ensure the flow of gas for connected gas cylinders. This then means customers can pay for the gas in small amounts of as little as KES 1 tackling the challenge of the high upfront cost of a cooker and cylinder and regular refills. 

The NB-IoT network provides connectivity that enables M-Gas’ capability to replace the cylinder in a customer’s home before the gas runs out, providing a reliable virtual pipeline supply.

Safaricom’s pioneering NB-IoT network enables machines and millions of other objects to be connected and managed over the internet at low power. In turn, this ensures that such connected objects can take advantage of powerful computing capabilities from a centralized cloud computer at a low cost for each connected object.

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Dickson Otieno
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