Kenya Power says 1m customers on prepaid meters are not paying


A technician repairs power lines in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Electricity distributor Kenya Power says 940,668 customers connected to the national grid have not loaded their meters for months.

This makes them “zero vend” customers, which refers to prepaid meters installed but have not yet purchased any tokens.

Kenya Power acting managing director Ken Tarus on Monday attributed the idle prepaid meters to low consumption of power by some customers as well as illegal connections and the bypassing of meters by rogue consumers.

“Most of the customers who are beneficiaries of the World Bank’s GPOBA (Global Partnership of Output Based Aid), and the Last Mile Connectivity programmes are largely from informal settlements whose monthly consumption is 2 units on average. As a result, most of them take long to exhaust the initial pre-loaded units,” said Mr Tarus.

The Kenya Power boss said new customers will now be required to buy their own tokens before accessing power to reduce the number of idle connections.

The utility firm has been in a race to increase the number of household connections, in line with the Jubilee administration’s election pledges.
The rapid pace of customer number growth has seen critics question the accuracy of the connections data.

Mr Tarus maintained that the number of households connected to the national grid stands at 5.98 million, which is equivalent to about 63 per cent of households.

He said illegal connections and bypassing of Kenya Power meters had also seen a number of pre-paid meters not vending-- which refers to buying and loading tokens after exhausting the pre-loaded units.

He also blamed the development on the recent rapid development of the property sector, which he said had seen installation of prepaid meters even before full occupation of the houses.

“Also in the leased housing units, movement of tenants at various times occurs. This has resulted in a number of installed pre-paid meters not vending for the period of non-occupancy,” he said.

The power utility will also crack down on the illegal connections, he said.

“Immediately upon connection, customers are required to load tokens to be able to have power…The company is actively engaging communities on the benefits of legal and safe connections and where this fails, we are prosecuting those who have illegal connections and have bypassed the meters,” he said.