Why You Should Stop Using Lipa Pole Pole Phone Plans in Kenya: High Costs and Hidden Fees

When you step outside your house here in Nairobi – Kenya’s largest city, there’s a high possibility you’ll almost immediately see an electronics shop with a Lipa Pole Pole label. Now to explain the concept of Lipa Pole Pole, we will compare it to the old-fashioned higher purchase style. It’s where you can easily walk into a shop, provide some identifications and in some instances confirmation of a steady income and leave with that item you’ve been longing for forever. The catch is, in almost all cases, the total cost of acquisition is usually very high. There are different variations of Lipa Pole Pole concepts out there including the popular Mkopa facility that is used to acquire mobile devices to be paid daily with limited functionality at least until the whole amount is settled.

As at now, there has cropped more than a dozen payment plans for various electronic devices here in Kenya. And payment plans for purchasing phones in particular as well as a few other electronic devices have become increasingly popular. Plans such as Lipa Polepole, Mkopa, and other similar buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) services promise to offer consumers here in the country a convenient way to acquire the latest smartphones without an upfront cost, something that anyone might find interesting without looking into the tiny detail, as they say the devil is in the detail. While these plans may seem attractive at first glance, there are significant drawbacks associated with them of which we intent to highlight In this blog post. We are going to explore why it is high time to reconsider these payment plans and opt to purchase phones outright instead.

Quick Summary

  • High Total Cost: Payment plans often lead to a higher overall cost due to added interest rates and fees.
  • Financial Strain: Ongoing payments can place a financial burden on individuals and affect their credit history.
  • Limited Choices: Payment plans may limit the range of devices available and lead to lower-quality choices.

High Total Cost

One of the most significant if not the main drawback in these types of payment plans for purchasing phones through plans like Lipa Polepole and Mkopa is obviously the higher overall cost. These plans often include hidden fees that might not be seen at first with all the excitement of getting a phone and interest rates that can substantially increase the total amount paid for a device. While spreading payments over time may seem manageable, it ultimately results in consumers paying far more than the phone’s original price.

For example, a phone that costs KSh 20,000 upfront might end up costing over KSh 30,000 when purchased through a payment plan, due to interest and other fees. This additional cost could have been avoided by saving up and buying the phone outright.

Financial Strain

Engaging in payment plans can lead to ongoing financial strain for many individuals, and I must include especially in these days when taxes and high cost of living is gobbling every penny that we have. These plans require regular payments which can become a burden, especially for those with fluctuating incomes. Take for example someone in the so-called Jua Kali sector who might not have a steady flow of income. And by the way these are the type of people who these plans are meant for.  Failure to make payments on time can lead to penalties and negatively affect an individual’s credit history. Additionally, many BNPL services may not be transparent about the impact of delayed or missed payments, which might range from anywhere including disabling the device or even on a consumer’s credit score, which could have long-term financial consequences.

Case Study: Purchasing a Samsung Galaxy A14 with Lipa Pole Pole

A friend of mine decided to purchase a Samsung Galaxy A14 using a Lipa Pole Pole plan. The terms of the plan required a Ksh4,999 deposit followed by weekly payments of Ksh780 for a year.

Let’s break down the final costs:

  • Deposit: Ksh4,999
  • Weekly Payments: Ksh780 for 52 weeks (1 year) amounts to Ksh40,560
  • Total Cost: Ksh4,999 (deposit) + Ksh40,560 (weekly payments) = Ksh45,559

Now, compare this with the outright sale price of the Galaxy A14, which is Ksh28,999 if you buy direct. The difference is striking:

  • Direct Purchase: Ksh28,999
  • Lipa Pole Pole Purchase: Ksh45,559

By choosing the Lipa Pole Pole plan, my friend ended up paying an extra Ksh16,560 for the same phone. This significant markup demonstrates the high costs and hidden fees associated with such plans.

Limited Choices

While payment plans such as the one everyone is talking about – Mkopa may seem like an accessible option, they often come with limited choices. Many plans offer a selection of lower-cost or older devices which to be honest is a rip-off to say the least, restricting consumers from accessing the latest models or higher-quality products. This limitation can result in consumers not getting the best value for their money.

By saving up and purchasing a phone outright, consumers can choose from a wider range of options and invest in a higher-quality device that meets their needs more effectively.

Potential Impact

It’s important to recognize the potential impact of opting for payment plans when purchasing phones. The convenience of spreading out payments may seem appealing, but the long-term financial implications can be detrimental. Paying more than the original cost of a phone, experiencing financial strain due to ongoing payments, and being limited in choices are all significant downsides of these plans.

In my opinion, I would Instead say consider budgeting and saving up for a phone purchase outright. This approach will not only help you avoids the pitfalls of payment plans but also empowers yourself and the likes to make more informed choices and invest in quality devices. Taking control of your purchasing habits can lead to greater financial stability and satisfaction in the long run.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Parliamentarians Allocate NG-CDF Funds for ICT Hub Creation

Parliamentarians have allocated funds from the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) for the creation of ICT Hubs. In Kakamega, Member of Parliament for Teso...


How to Send “Please Call Me” Messages on Safaricom, Airtel & Telkom

Are you in a stuation where you need to get hold of someone very quickly but no airtime to make a call? All major...


Local Smartphone Assembly Soars with 268,000 Units Sold Since October

Since last October, 268,000 smartphones assembled locally have been purchased by Kenyan consumers. The consortium responsible for producing these devices has successfully sold 80%...