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Paying bills in Kenya

Hello everyone,

What bills do you pay? If you are renting, are bills included in the price of rent, and is this common practice in Kenya?

How can you pay your bills (e.g. online, at provider's store, at the post office)? Which is the most convenient or reliable way?

With what frequency are different bills sent in Kenya? Are there different deadlines for payment?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Hi,

Bills (for utilities) are generally not included in the cost of rent, though service charges and property rates may well be.

Th utilities that are provided via a network are electricity and water.

Water is always metered and meters are often located outside the compound, or for apartments, some central point in the compound.  Water costs vary greatly depending upon where you live (as does the reliability of the supply), as water supply companies are regional. 

Its worth turning off all the water in your property and check whether the meter has stopped running.  That way you can be sure that there are no leaks underground between the meter and the property.   

Billing is usually monthly, though sometimes quarterly.  Traditionally via a paper statement, sent to your PO Box, if you have one, but increasingly, bills are sent via SMS.  Payment can be made via the MPESA mobile money platform, or in person at the water company office - queues are often long.

Not paying on time will result in your water meter being uninstalled and removed and your supply being capped off - its a real hassle to get it back!

Electricity:  There are two types of meter; pre-pay and post-pay. 

There is a big advantage in having a pre-pay meter - you don't have to have meter readers visiting you and the cost is lower than with a post-pay meter.  Topping up the meter is done by MPESA - you pay the amount you want, then receive a code, which you enter into the meter.  The meter then displays the correct amount of credit.  There is no debit facilities as there is on, for example UK pre pay meters, so when the money reaches 0, you are disconnected.  Pre-pay meters were supposed to have been rolled out across the country, but as they meant job losses for meter readers and other staff, they stopped, so if you haven't got one, its very difficult to have one installed.

Post-pay meters have to be read, generally on a monthly basis.  Meters are sometimes located near the compound gate and can be read from the outside.  In any case, meters are located outside individual properties, so you don't need to let anyone into your house/apartment.  You won't necessarily know when the meter reader has been and some months they don't visit, leading to you receiving an estimated bill.  Billing is monthly, usually via SMS.  This will give you a final payment date, usually about a week from receipt of the bill and will also indicate whether the bill is estimated.  For estimated bills, you can take your own meter reading and phone it in.  An amended bill will be sent.

Payment, can be made via MPESA, or in person at the nearest Kenya Power office.  As everyone is billed around the same time, queues can be long, so MPESA is definitely the best.  Not paying in time will result in your supply being disconnected.  Reconnection can take a few days.

I've lived in 5 different houses/apartments in Nairobi and generally most contracts include water, gas cylinder supply and water. Therefore it's an all inclusive monthly payment which i pay using online banking from my kenyan bank account.
My current contract is lightly different in that i have to pay the utility bills individually. Electricity is KPLC and water is Nairobi water. Your monthly bills can be accessed online using the utility bill supplier websites and bills can be paid by mpesa. Mpesa is quick, easy and secure, although the only downside is that there is a small charge from mpesa for each transaction. Mpesa is a mobile phone money transfer service so in my opinion it's the best way to pay all utility bills.
I've never paid cash for utility bills due to the time taken to do so by visiting various utility outlets.

HI this is really helpful.. I am Varun working with WHO. I am coming to Nairobi, Kenya in Dec-17. Please provide me little more info about, which is the best telecom network to apply for keeping in mind i have to stay in touched with my family in India. What all is required to have MPESA services.. Thanks

The two main telecom providers are Safaricom and Airtel. There are others but these two are the dominate players in Kenya. Personally i'd use Safaricom because of the the variety of services they have and mpesa off course. If you're calling back home to India then log on to each of their sites and see if they have any specific International bundles which are more cost effective.

You can also learn Swahili with an excellent tutor -***

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