Safaricom has announced that it has extended its partnership with M-Gas to offer affordable prepaid cooking gas in Kenya.

The partnership will enable joint technology development, expertise sharing, co-creation of solutions, and market support between the two firms. Provided by Circle Gas, M-Gas is a service that leverages Safaricom’s connectivity enabling the purchase of gas through a smart meter.

“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 help M-Gas in its ambition to put 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. 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.

A recent report by the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), shows that most low income households (62%) would prefer to use LPG gas to cook but because they are low income, they are not able to acquire and use gas for their cooking needs.

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 already has more than 6,500 customers who have logged more than 200,000 cooking hours. In subsequent phases, Circle Gas plans expand its services to more areas within Nairobi and to the rest of the country.

M-Gas uses Safaricom’s M-PESA and NB-IoT network to manage payments and ensure the flow of gas for connected gas cylinders. This means customers can pay for the gas in whatever amounts that they can afford and pay as little as Ksh. 1. This helps tackle the challenge of the high upfront cost of a cooker and cylinder and regular refills.

M-Gas offers its clients a gas cylinder and a 2-burner gas cooker with no upfront cost. The gas cylinder will come equipped with a smart meter that will show how much gas a customer has paid for and how much they have remaining. Payments are made through M-PESA with the gas automatically disconnecting when a customer has completely consumed the amount paid for.

Safaricom’s 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 computing capabilities from a centralized cloud computer at a low cost for each connected object.