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Pre-paid water metre set to hit market

04 September 2014, 21:01 Joseph Njung’eh

Nairobi - Kenyans might sooner than later be able to pay water bills without hassles of lining-up or waiting for their service provider to send bills.

An initiative set to change the way water services are offered in the country is at its last lap and it is only a matter of time before a programme that will see clients pay for water they can and are planning to consume is rolled out.

The Pre-paid programme, though not new in Kenya is however a new phenomenon in the water provision sector in the country.

An accountant by profession, Stephen Muriuki says he is finalizing deals with some water providers and the programme is expected to kick off in a few weeks time.

Working under the auspices of RealTech Logistics, Muriuki has for almost the last two years been working on the gadget that he is optimistic will bring to an end the crisis that has been witnessed in most parts of the country in matters of water services.

“I know you have heard people complaining that they are forced to pay for huge bills and yet they have consumed little amount of water. I know you have heard people lamenting how they are forced to pay bills and yet water is ever available in their taps. With our new technology, that will be a thing of the past,” Muriuki said during an interview in his Nyeri office.

He says that the Digital electronic Prepaid Water meters will enable the Utility companies to receive money in advance and they focus on service provision unlike in the current situation where millions of shillings are spent on meter reading and billing through postage.

The Utility companies badly need revenue because unlike other services water is basic need and the water companies are not supposed to be profitable but should be able to collect the little revenue efficiently to be able to expand the water connections.

He says that after several proposals and meetings making presentations on the prepaid water meters there has been very warm reception of the idea given that in average postage expense for Water bills has been in millions for most companies and even the cost of reading meters runs into millions too.

Even with introduction of paperless bills the cost of bulk sms and efficiency, convenience can never supersede the benefits of digital prepaid meter.

Since last year Muriuki has been preparing for the success of this project by recruiting capacity in the office, customizing the vending software to accept various mode of payments, mobile money, Debit, Credit Cards and simulating the process ‘such that on presentation we don’t put theories but a finished product’.

The former accountant with Kenya Women Finance Trust (KWFT) says they have three models that will be rolled out and which the Utility companies will have an opportunity to decide which to go for.

These are Outright purchase of meters and software, Leasing of meters and revenue sharing models.

The meters have been configured to deduct arrears as percentage of top ups too.

Further, the meters can be zoned so that there are various tariffs for different estates or region Tamper status report.

This means service providers in areas with diverse nature of people can choose who to charge more, who to charge less and who to give for free.

RealTech Logistics has approached more than 50 service providers across the country most of whom have declared their interest in taking part in the piloting project that will be started soon.

If rolled out in the country, Kenya will be one of the few countries in Africa where there are pre-paid water meter.

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