David Karanja: Co-Founder Of IT Firm That Introduced ‘Token’ Prepaid Meters In Kenya

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David Karanja: Co-Founder Of IT Firm That Introduced 'Token' Prepaid Meters In Kenya
David Karanja Photocredit/Courtesy

When Philips, a Dutch technology firm, announced plans to exit the Kenyan market, David Karanja and three colleagues pooled funds to buy the company.

Karanja and his team who worked at the Dutch multinational, used their savings and terminal benefits to acquire the business.

Here is what WoK has gathered about the business.

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Background

They started the business in April 2000 under the name Professional Digital Services Limited-Kenya (PDSL).

“It was a simple buyout. We were buying its operations here in Kenya. So what mostly we needed was office space and tools for our maintenance work

“If I remember well, we invested between Sh1.5 million and Ksh 2 million. We pooled from our savings and part of the payout benefits we received from The Philips of Netherlands,” Karanja told Businessdaily.

Karanja and his partners later became local agents of Philips dealing in communications devices, business telephones (PABXs), conferencing and sound systems installations.

Their clientele included state agencies, luxury hotels and financial institutions.

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Expansion

While working with Philips, PDSL, a year later, introduced data network installation, maintenance and related solution.

In 2002, they were appointed as locals agents for Gemalto-which was merger between Axalto and Gemplus-, venturing into SIM card sales for mobile network operators.

In 2004, they were appointed as local partner for Atos Original in systems integration, tasked with the implementation Safaricom loyalty system, Bonga Points.

Prepaid Meters

PDSL later entered a deal with Actaris and oversaw the implementation of the pilot project for prepaid electricity meters for Kenya Power.

They produced 25,000 prepaid meters two years before they received a green light to replace the old meters with the new prepaid meters. The count jumped to more than one million and have now replaced about 6.3 million units. 

The got the idea of pre-paid electricity after he attended a trip abroad.

“We have been strategic about our growth and the areas we wanted to venture into.

I am always travelling abroad for seminars and workshops to understand the business and how to implement it here.

For example, the idea of having pre-paid electricity meters locally came from a function I attended in the UK”, he told BD.

He went on to add that it took 11 years for the proposal to be taken up on a pilot basis. it took another four years for the project to be implemented.

In 2017, they worked with the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation as a power lines contractor.

PDSL also worked with the Kenya National Examination Council to provide a channel for the transmission of examination results for primary and secondary schools in 2018.

The firm  offers utility payment solutions for power, airtime, water, pay TV and a platform for bulk SMS delivery.

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