8 October 2009 – Electricity distributor Kenya Power and Lighting Company is looking for agents to sell scratch cards for its pre-paid metering system in a move that could create thousands of jobs countrywide.

The move is also expected to boost the earnings of micro-entrepreneurs, who are already acting as agents of the country’s top telecoms operators Safaricom and Zain, which have opened negotiations with KPLC to enable the agents help sell the cards.

There are close to 17,000 agents in the mobile phone money transfer business in the country.

KPLC is also planning to recruit its own agents, a move that should open new employment and business opportunities for thousands of Kenyans adding to the more than 100,000 jobs that mobile telephony is estimated to have created in the past eight years.

Official data shows that airtime vendors last year earned Sh4.6 billion in commissions a figure that could significantly improve with the sale of electricity scratch cards.

KPLC has transferred 7,000 electricity consumers to the pre-paid meters and the number is set to grow to 25,000 by the end of the year, rising to 250, 000 in the next 12 months.

“Negotiations with third party vendors such as Safaricom and Zain are ongoing. We expect to have them on board before long,” said a progress report on the pre-paid metering system.

Under the new payment system, electricity consumers will buy cards before hand to top up their meters before expiry of their credit to avoid automatic disconnection.

The new meters that use smart cards are bought from KPLC and loaded with the amount of credit purchased.

The card is then inserted in the new meters, which subtracts the points according to consumption.

Just like the prepaid mobile phone system, the prepaid electricity meter will switch off power immediately a consumer has exhausted his credit and on reloading the card automatically reconnect.

Currently, consumers can only access the cards from KPLC banking halls and three Uchumi Supermarkets, making that addition of more access points a critical plank in the success of the pre-paid metering now that the power firm is planning a massive rollout.