Traveling in the age of technology comes with its own challenges. You want to make sure you are always in the loop of what is going on in the world while at the same time keep in touch with your loved ones and share your adventures. So, it is potent to have the right cell phone service that gives you talk, text, and data when traveling. This is especially true when it comes to going to Africa, where there are so many different countries.
What are the best prepaid SIM card options in Africa? It depends on the country you visit and the kind of package you are looking to purchase. Sometimes, you might even want to buy multiple SIM cards for different services. This may sound expensive, but it might be a cheaper option in the long run. Just make sure you have an unlocked cell phone that you can use with the local SIM card.
There are 54 countries in Africa. Each of these countries has its own cell phone services and, in some cases, multiple services. So, knowing which cell phone service or services will serve you well is going to come in very handy. Below is the list of all the countries and what they have to offer SIM card wise. You will see operators often because they are big in Africa:
NOTE: This guide is in the process of a major overhaul. I have written many guides of individual countries, which are linked where applicable. You can recognize them by seeing an image of the operators of the country. I recommend heading to those guides to get more accurate and in-depth information about the SIM card options of the country in question.
Algeria SIM Cards
There are three primary cell phone services in Algeria: Djezzy (Optimum Telecom Algeria), Mobilis (Algerie Telecom), and Ooredoo. All of the SIM options can be bought from authorized dealers. These dealers can help you with setting up your phones, showing you how to use the service and also assist with any top-ups that you might need.
Djezzy by Optimum Telecom Algeria
It costs about $2.50 to buy a SIM starter kit, which will give you 100 MB of data. The plans are pretty low cost for calling and texting, starting at $0.04 per 30 minutes or per text.
If you are more of a Facebook and WhatsApp user, you may want to give their “Amigo” plan a try. For $1.25, you get 200 MB of data plus unlimited access to Facebook and WhatsApp.
Djezzy Speed plans, the data-only plans, range from $0.35 with 100 MB for 24 hours all the way up to $7.80 with 15 GB for 30 days – cheap!
Mobilis by Algerie Telecom
It will cost you $0.83 to start, which will include about $1.67 of bonus credits. Once you buy the starter SIM, you can then choose a plan. Mobilis has four options, and the price of each option depends on how much money you want to spend at a time and how much your usage.
Mobilis give all of their SIM users unlimited access to Facebook and WhatsApp as part of their plans. Depending on if you get a 3G or 4G service, you have an option of just going with a data plan as well.
The most you will spent on a Mobilis data plan is $15.60 for 30 GB and 2000 DZD ($15.60) in credit for a month.
This SIM service is not as popular as the other two; however, if you are planning on traveling to other Middle East countries, then this would be your best option since Ooredoo is the largest cell operator in the Middle East. They also have similar plans where you buy a starter pack and then top-up minutes and data for an additional charge.
You can get unlimited data with Ooredoo Algeria for $31.15, which will come with 50 international minutes and 3000 DZD ($23.35) in credit, too.
Angola SIM Cards
Unitel and Movicel are the two mobile operators in Angola. They both offer 2G (900 MHz & 1800 MHz), 3G (2100 MHz), and 4G/LTE (1800 MHz on Band 3) services throughout Angola on standard African frequencies.
You can get an Angolan prepaid SIM card from both Unitel and Movicel for 900 Kwaza (AOA), which is about 1.50 USD.
The average cost of 1 GB of data in Angola is 6.10 USD compared to the Central African average of 8.12 USD
A Unitel SIM card called Prépago SIM, which are available in Unitel stores (for 900 Kwanza). Unitel's data packages are simply called Net and the following packages are available:
Unitel has data-only bundles, which they referred to as Net. The following options are available:
|Price||Price with 14% Tax||Data||Validity|
|88 AOA||100.32 AOA||100 MB||24 hours|
|175 AOA||199.50 AOA||200 MB||24 hours|
|307 AOA||349.98 AOA||70 MB||15 days|
|439 AOA||500.46 AOA||100 MB||15 days|
|878 AOA||1000.92 AOA||400 MB||15 days|
|1755 AOA||2000.7 AOA||1 GB||31 days|
|4385 AOA||4998.9 AOA||3 GB||31 days|
|8772 AOA||10 000.08 AOA||8 GB||31 days|
|10 527 AOA||12 000.78 AOA||20 GB||31 days|
|21 053 AOA||24 000.42 AOA||30 GB||31 days|
Movicel is the smaller operator in Angola. Their coverage is not as extensive as the one of Unitel, but they offer much more types of data packages.
You can get a Movicel SIM card for 900 Kwanza in Movicel stores. Movicel offers these types of packages:
- Takuiá (short-term combo plans)
- Karga (combo plans)
- Movinet (data-only plans)
- Aditivos (Noites) (nighttime data-only plans)
Below you can find the Karga plans and Movinet plans.
The Karga plans are combo plans data, minutes, and SMS. The following four Karga plans are available:
|Price||Data||On-Net Minutes||Off-Net Minutes||On-Net SMS||Off-Net SMS||Validity||Activation|
|850 AOA||150 MB||150 on-net minutes||20 off-net minutes||150 on-net SMS||20 off-net SMS||7 days||Dial *500*850# OR text LEVE to 19500|
|2200 AOA||700||400 on-net minutes||50 off-net minutes||400 on-net SMS||50 off-net SMS||30 days||Dial *500*2200# OR text NICE to 19500|
|3900 AOA||1 GB||750 on-net minutes||80 off-net minutes||750 on-net SMS||80 off-net SMS||30 days||Dial *500*3900# OR text TUDO to 19500|
|7400 AOA||2 GB||1600 on-net minutes||160 off-net minutes||1600 on-net SMS||160 off-net SMS||30 days||Dial *500*7400# OR text BWE to 19500|
The Movinet plans are data-only plans. You have the following options:
|100 AOA||100 MB||1 day||Dial *200*100# OR text 100 to 19200|
|350 AOA||200 MB||7 days||Dial *200*350# OR text 200 to 19200|
|1000 AOA||500 MB||15 days||Dial *200*1000# OR text 500 to 19200|
|1900 AOA||1 GB||30 days||Dial *200*1900# OR text 1 to 19200|
|4800 AOA||3 GB||30 days||Dial *200*4800# OR text 3 to 19200|
|7900 AOA||5 GB||30 days||Dial *200*7900# OR text 5 to 19200|
|18 000 AOA||15 GB||30 days||Dial *200*18000# OR text 15 to 19200|
Benin SIM Cards
This West African country has two major SIM card providers: MTN Benin and Moov Benin.
You can buy a started SIM for $0.34 once you have the SIM card, you can buy credits depending on the amount of data you need. The rates start at as low as $0.17 to as high as $15.13.
The good thing about the SIM card from MTN is that if you visit Benin regularly and would like to keep your SIM, then you can buy an extended validity for $0.50 for six months or $0.67 for a year.
Just like MTN, Moov also offers a starter SIM for as low as $0.42, and if you are lucky enough to catch a sale, then you can get it as low as $0.17. Then you can choose what kind of package you want and add that to your SIM. The most you will pay is $123.45 for 100 GB of data, but the more reasonable plans (up to 3 GB) will cost you up to $8.30.
Botswana SIM Cards
There are three major service providers in Botswana: Mascom, Orange, and BTC Mobile. All three providers can be trusted, however just make sure that you are buying the SIM cards, or SIM SIMs as they are sometimes referred to, from an authorized dealer. This way, you are sure that your SIM card is legitimate.
Just so you know, the cell service in Botswana is not great in all areas.
The three SIM card providers are:
It is one of the largest service providers in Botswana. They offer 3G and 4G services. The 3G service is available to most of the country, while the 4G is limited to certain areas only, Garbone being one of them.
They offer a variety of packages at the starting rate of $0.09. After that, their bundles vary depending on your usage. For example, 400 MB data with 20 operator minutes and 40 SMS, which is valid for fourteen days, will cost you $7.23.
They also offer an unlimited data package only from midnight to 5 am for $0.92.
This is the second-largest SIM card provider in Botswana. They also have a variety of plans to offer and an easy way to add minutes, data, and text service with scratch-off cards.
Their starter SIM starts at $0.91, which gives you about 5 MB of data, 10 SMS, and about 20 minutes.
You can always add more to your plan with the scratch card, which starts at $0.92 and goes up to $9.16. The higher the denomination of the scratch card you buy, the more bonus service you get.
This is a government-owned entity, and the third most used SIM card provider. However, the service is not great, and so it is advisable to use the other two service providers instead.
Burkina Faso SIM Cards
Telmob (Ontel), Orange, and Telcel are the three cell phone service providers in Burkina Faso. Always make sure to buy your starter kits or SIM cards from authorized dealers to minimize fraudulent charges.
The three service providers are:
Telmob (by Ontel)
This is the largest SIM provider in the country. It offers 2G, 3G, and 4G services. You can purchase a prepaid SIM card from an authorized retailer for as low as $0.84.
They have various packages for you to choose from depending on what you need as well as what will you be using your phone for the most. Their top-up recharge cards start at $0.34 and go up to $84.
Orange Burkina Faso
If you decide to use this service, then the starter SIM can be purchased at $0.42. Once you buy the starter SIM, you can then add packages to your SIM, starting at $0.34 to $18.
Meanwhile, the data plans start at $0.17 to $25 and go from 10 MB to 10 GB.
This is a smaller cell phone provider, and to buy a SIM card, you have to show your passport or an official form of ID.
The starter SIM for this provider starts at $0.34, and you can add minutes and data starting at $0.34 to $3.36.
Burundi SIM Cards
This small East African country has four SIM card providers: Lumitel, Econet Leo, Smart Mobile, and Onamob. However, only three of them are functioning fully with data capabilities. The fourth one, Onamob, is currently only 2G/GSM and only suitable for voice and SMS.
When getting a SIM card, the law requires you to submit valid form ID and for the dealers to register the information of the subscriber.
The three SIM providers are:
This is by far the fastest data service provider in Burundi. The company is operated by a Vietnamese company called Viettel.
The starter SIM costs about $ 2.67. Make sure when purchasing the SIM that you are buying the 4G SIM and not the 3G.
Once you buy the SIM card, you have plenty of service options to choose from, and this includes individual data plans as well.
Similar to the Lumitel provider, Econet prices also start at $2.67 and has similar plan and service options.
This is a smaller company that provides only 2G and 3G services. If you are going to be in the same area, then this is an excellent service, and it costs less then the others.
If you are going to be traveling around Burundi, then you are better off with a different cell provider.
Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) SIM Cards
Cabo Verde, or Cape Verde, is a small island country on the West Coast of Africa. The island has 2G and 3G services only in the main towns, as well as the most popular tourist locations. The launch of 4G/LTE service is in the works but has not been launched yet.
There are two main Cell phone operators are CV Movel and T+ (T-Mais):
The starter SIM for this company will run you $2. You can either buy a SIM for calling and texting, or you can get one just for data. The choice is yours. If you are using WhatsApp and other social media, then just data should be enough for you.
The plans start at $0.40 for 25MB and go up to $25 for 10GB.
T+ or T-Mais
Plans for this SIM service start at $2, and then you can add data service starting at $0.50 and goes up to $12.50.
Other than that, just make sure that you buy a 3G SIM card to make sure you have the best service that the island has to offer.
Cameroon SIM Cards
When buying a SIM card in Cameroon, you have to make sure that you do it from an authorized dealer only; otherwise, your service might be shut down. This applies to all the SIM card providers in Cameroon.
There are four network providers. However, if you want reliable service, then you would stick to the following three carriers:
They are the leading mobile network provider with both 3G and 4G/LTE services that can be bought for $0.84.
If you are looking to purchase their data plan, then you can buy it either on a day to day basis, or you can purchase a specific amount of data to use within a specified period, i.e., 2 GB/day for 3 days will cost you $4.28.
Another SIM card provider is Orange. Their starter kit starts at $0.50. From there, you can add different packages for voice, text, and data or just data packages.
Just data can cost up to $16.78 for 30 GB for up to 30 days.
This is also a good SIM card service provider with great plans.
The advantage of using this service is that if you are only into Facebook and WhatsApp, then you can buy plans to accommodate just that.
You get unlimited access to Facebook or WhatsApp for a day, a week, or a month. Just beware that it is either or, you cannot have both social media platforms for an unlimited amount. And, you can only use the text messaging service for WhatsApp and not the voice or video calls.
Central African Republic (CAR) SIM Cards
There are four major SIM distributors in the Central African Republic; however, the networks do not extend to all parts of CAR due to the unrest in the country.
There is no proper access to electricity to connect the cell phone towers to and in general, the infrastructure of the country is lacking. This means that not only the phone service can be choppy, but there are times when there are outages, so you have to be ready for that.
But if you need to get a phone while you are there then, go with Orange. They have a 3G network and provide data services as well.
At this time, pricing information is not available.
Chad SIM Cards
There are two major SIM card service providers in Chad – Airtel and Tigo. Both companies provide similar services at similar prices.
The only advantage that we could tell for going for one over the other is that Airtel provides you with packages of unlimited access to Facebook, WhatsApp, and Viber with your data.
On the flip side, the data service in Chad is not great. There are plenty of times the government shuts it down for political reasons.
So, regardless of which company you go with, it will cost you anywhere between $2 to $5 for a starter pack.
Comoros SIM Cards
The two main SIM providers in Comoros are Huri and Telma. There are some major differences between the two, and as a tourist, we would suggest going with Telma rather then Huri for the following reasons.
This is the number one Cell phone service provider for the Island of Comoros. You can get a starter SIM for $4.50. They only provide 2G and 3G service as of now. Additionally, they block VoIP calls. Meaning, you cannot use WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, etc. to make any calls.
SIM cards are readily available in authorized stores as well as at the airport. Top-up cards are also readily available, as well.
On the other hand, Telma charges about the same amount for their starter SIM and service packages, but they allow you to make calls over VOIP. On top of that, they also provide the Island with 4G mobile service.
For this reason, Telma would be an obvious choice for tourists.
Republic of the Congo SIM Cards
The Republic of the Congo has 2 mobile operators: Airtel Congo & MTN Congo. Azur Congo shut down in September 2019.
Both Airtel Congo and MTN Congo sell SIM cards for less than 300 Central African Franc (FCFA or XAF).
This section will be updated soon, but you can read more about Congolese SIM cards by going to my buying a SIM card in the Repblic of the Congo guide
Ivory Coast SIM Cards
To get a SIM card in Cote d’Ivoire, also known as Ivory Coast, you must go to an authorized dealer and show your ID. If you are a tourist, your passport will suffice. If you buy your SIM card from a street seller, there are high chances that your SIM card will be blocked.
Top-ups for your SIM can be bought from anywhere once your SIM has been registered.
There are four main service providers in Ivory Coast: Orange, MTN, Moov, and YooMee. The last two are smaller companies with unreliable service. So, I will highlight the first two here for you.
Orange Ivory Coast
The leading service provider in the company with services in 2G, 3G, and 4GLTE. A starter SIM can be purchased for $1. Then you can buy different top-up cards to suit your needs.
For example, 500 MB of data plus 10,000 texts and 25 domestic minutes will cost you about $25.
If you are a frequent traveler in the African countries, the advantage you have with Orange is that you can buy their roaming service and use it in whichever countries offer Orange service for just $25. This gives you free minutes, text messages, and 30 MB of data.
MTN Ivory Coast
It is the second-largest mobile network provider in the Ivory Coast and a major competitor of Orange. They also provide 2G, 3G and 4G services for most of the Island.
Same as the Orange SIM, you have to make sure you buy it from an authorized retailer; otherwise, your SIM will be deactivated or blocked.
The pricing for MTN is similar to Orange.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) SIM Cards
There was not sufficient information on both these countries. Until recently, these countries were going through a civil war, so that might have something to do with it.
I believe there should be at least limited cell phone service in the country, but if not, then you can always but an international SIM card that will provide you with some service. I will not be going to the DRC anytime soon. But if any reader from the DRC has some information for me, feel free to contact me so that I can update this section ????.
Djibouti SIM Cards
The only service provider here is Djibouti Telecom. They have a monopoly in the country for all kinds of phone and data services. This means that they control pricing. This also means that they charge higher than usual prices.
The starter SIM card costs $5.36. For $3, you can get 30 minutes, 20 MB of data, 20 SMS, and 10 MMS. This will last you for 30 days.
Egypt SIM Cards
The four SIM cards are:
The good thing about Vodaphone in Egypt is that it has tourist packages. The packages are for 4G services even though half the time, 4G service does not work.
The two packages that are available to tourists are:
- 8 GB, 200 local mins, 20 international mins: $18.60
- 30 GB, 200 local mins, 30 international mins: $31
Similar to Vodafone, this one also provides just tourist packages. They are a little bit pricier but can be expected since they are not the majority service provider.
The two packages include:
- 5 GB, 200 local mins, 20 international mins: $12.40
- 30 GB, 200 local mins, 30 international mins: $31
Just like the first two, this one also offers tourist packages. Even though it is a smaller provider compared to the first 2, the plan is better for Etisalat.
Their plan options are:
Traveler 175: 5 GB, 500 local mins, 10 international mins, 500 local SMS- $10.85
Traveler 350: 10 GB, 1500 local mins, 25 international mins, 1000 local SMS – $21.70
Traveler 525: 20 GB, 3500 local mins, 50 international mins, 2000 local SMS – $32.55
WE by Telecom Egypt
This is originally a government-owned landline service that now also provides cellphones, particularly 4G LTE service. However, the service with this provider is not reliable, so I would not suggest getting it.
Equatorial Guinea SIM Cards
In Equatorial Guinea, foreigners must buy their SIM cards from one of two stores, one in Malabo and the other in Bata.
They only have one kind of SIM card provider, GETESA. The starter SIM costs $5.04. You will need to present two passport size photos, a copy of your passport, and a valid visa to get a SIM card.
Once you are set up, you can purchase recharge cards from anywhere.
Eritrea SIM Cards
Eritrea was one of the last countries in the world to adopt a cell phone service. They have only one company, EriTel, and the service is really bad. The cell phone service is controlled by the government.
Only expats with a resident status are allowed to buy a local SIM card – they are not available to travelers. Moreover, mobile data is not even offered in Eritrea.
Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) SIM Cards
There are two major service providers in Eswatini: MTN & Eswatini Mobile.
As of 2019, MTN, the country’s largest and oldest mobile network, introduced SIM card and service packages just for tourists.
The SIM allows customers to buy, register a film card, and get a pre-loaded package that comes with 45 minutes of local calls,15 minutes of international calls, and 1 GB data. You can buy these SIM cards at tourist entry points/border gates and at specific MTN outlets.
This service is pretty recent and gives the user the option to pick their service from 2G, 3G, and 4G. The packages are pretty decently priced. For $3.50, you get 250 VoIP minutes, 50 minutes for local calls, 50 SMS, and 50 MB of data. The package is valid for 7 days.
You can buy recharge cards locally at select vendors.
Ethiopia SIM Cards
There is only one company that sells SIM cards in Ethiopia, Ethio Telecom. They have good, reliable service.
You can purchase a SIM card, or SIM SIMs as the locals call it, from anywhere in the downtown area. However, to be on the safe side, I would suggest purchasing it from an authorized dealer.
A starter SIM will run you about $1. Then you can buy recharge cards to get more data, minutes, and texts.
Gabon SIM Cards
A starter SIM will cost you about $1 to $2. After you have purchased the starter SIM, you can add minutes and data by purchasing recharge cards in any denominations available. Data packs range from 20 MB for 2 days ($0.33) to 50 GB lasting you a full month ($82.30).
This cost similar to Gabon Telecom SIM cards and have similar recharge costs. However, Airtel does not provide reliable service. Hence people prefer Gabon Telecom over Airtel. Airtel's largest data comes with 200 GB lasting you 60 days for $148
Gambia SIM Cards
There are three major network providers in the Gambia: Africell, QCell, and Gamtel/Gamcel. All services are either 2G or 3G. The 4G service is in the works.
When purchasing a SIM card, you will have to provide a copy of your passport.
Africell is the leading cell phone provider in the Gambia. A starter SIM will cost you $0.19, and you can buy scratch-off cards for $0.50, $1, $5, or $10 to top-up your card.
Just like Africell, the starter SIM will cost you $0.19. QCell has faster speeds than Africell, and you can buy top-up cards for $1 or $2.
This is a government-owned subsidiary. It also has the least reliable service. So, I would suggest getting one of the other two services unless you find a really good promotion. Then it might be worth it.
Ghana SIM Cards
MTN, Vodafone, and AirtelTigo are the three major network providers in Ghana. All three are required by law to register every SIM purchased. Which means when you go to purchase a SIM, you will have to show some form of ID, if you are a foreigner, you will need to show your passport.
The three providers are:
Starter SIMs for MTN, and the other providers as well, will cost you $0.36. MTN has the fastest and most reliable service of them all. After activation, you can purchase a top-up card to start using service.
You get reliable service with Vodafone, and the starter SIM will give you a few minutes and 500 GM of data. Do note that if you do not use your SIM within three months, the card will be deactivated.
AirtelTigo has the second largest network in Ghana. If you want an AirtelTigo SIM card, you have to buy it from an authorized reseller. They provide fast and reliable service.
Guinea SIM Cards
From my research, I was able to locate two main mobile networks in Guinea: MTN and Orange. Both are reliable and fast.
For $0.11, you can buy an MTN starter SIM card. Once you have activated your SIM, you will have to buy a top-up card to start using your service.
Just like MTN, you can get a starter SIM card for $0.11. For $5.32, you can get 50 SMS, 1 GB of data, 90 local minutes, and 15 international minutes.
Guinea-Bissau SIM Cards
There are two major networks: MTN and Orange. Both are reliable and have fast service. Most of the country has service. However, some rural areas still do not have coverage.
I could not find any pricing information, but just like Guinea, the pricing should be extremely affordable.
I managed to find information about SIM cards and mobile data prices in Guinea-Bissau, and this section will be updated soon. Orange is the recommended operator because they have the best coverage and speeds. Moreover, they are cheaper than MTN.
More information will be added here soon. For now, head over to the Guinea-Bissau SIM card buying guide.
Kenya SIM Cards
There are three major networks in Kenya: Safaricom, Airtel, and Telkom. All three provide 2G, 3G, and 4G services.
Airtel and Telkom have recently announced that they plan on merging companies and networks in the coming few years.
In Kenya, you cannot give your phone to someone else to use just in case they use it inappropriately. Otherwise, you have to pay a fine or could be jailed.
The three networks are:
For almost a dollar, you can get a starter SIM from Safaricom. After the initial purchase of a SIM card, you can top-up your service in any amount from $0.05 to $10.
Just like for Safaricom and Telcom, you can buy a starter SIM card for almost a dollar. Airtel’s service is, however, not as reliable as Safaricom. On the other hand, Airtel has better deals, which can make your service cheaper. They also offer free Facebook, Whatsapp, and Twitter access.
Telkom is the smallest provider on this list. Although they are small, they do offer fast service and have competitive rates for their packages.
Lesotho SIM Cards
Lesotho has two telecom providers you should know about: Vodacom and Econet.
For $2.04, you can buy a Vodacom starter SIM card. Vodacom offers 2G, 3G, and 4G service. However, if you want 4G service, you will have to ask for the 4G card when you buy it. Once you buy the SIM, you can top it up by buying credits.
Econet offers its starter SIM card for $3.40. Do note that Econet, for the most part, offer 2G service only. This does not matter if you intend on calling and texting only, but 2G service is too slow for any modern apps, except for sending emails (which will also take a while for them to go through).
Liberia SIM Cards
There are only two major networks in Liberia: LoneStar Cell MTN and Orange. Once you purchase your SIM from either of the providers, you have to make sure that you register your SIM; otherwise, you will only be able to receive calls. Once you register, you will be able to make calls.
LoneStar Cell MTN
You can buy a LoneStar Cell MTN starter SIM card for $1. For $5, you can get 1500 mins, 100 SMS, 30 international mins, and 3GB of data.
For $1 as well, you can get faster and more reliable service than LoneStar Cell MTN. The rates for the offers they provide are about the same, but Orange has 4G service throughout Liberia.
Libya SIM Cards
There are two major networks in Libya: Libyana and Al Madar. Both networks provide reliable service; however, Libyana is dominating the market currently by being the first on the continent to provide 4G network and is currently working on rolling out 5G.
Madagascar SIM Cards
Airtel, Telma, Orange, and Bip are the four network providers in Madagascar. All of them require you to present a government-issued ID to purchase and register your SIM. In some cases, they may even ask for a passport size photo. So, make sure you have those handy just in case.
You can get a starter SIM card for $0.66 from Airtel and the other providers as well. Once you buy the starter SIM, you can purchase top-up credits to start using your service.
Telma was the first provider to offer 4G LTE service in Madagascar. The provider has coverage around the islands. Once you purchase the SIM, you can buy recharge cards from $0.15 to $13.50.
From all the providers, Orange provides the most reliable 2G service on the island, which may not be relevant if you want to use data services on Madagascar.
Bip is the new kid on the block that offers competitive rates for its services. Additionally, Bip offers free access to Facebook and a few other websites.
Malawi SIM Cards
Malawi has two network providers you should know about: Airtel and TNM. The other 3, G-Mobile, Lacell, and G-Espresso, are useless.
You can get an Airtel starter SIM card for $0.69. Once you buy the starter SIM, you can pick and choose the kind of services you want. Data packs range from 15 MB for a day for $0.15 to 40 GB lasting you a month for $54.50.
Just like with Airtel, you can get a starter SIM card for $0.69. They allow you to pick your own bundle, too, or you can Pay-As-You-Go. TNM's most expensive plan comes with 10 GB for a month for $31.30
Mali SIM Cards
Like most African countries, to get a SIM card in Mali, you will need to show ID. So, make sure you travel with a copy of your passport to make it easier for you to get a SIM right away in case you cannot find a place to get your passport copied.
There are three major networks in Mali: Orange, Malitel, and Telecel.
Orange sells its starter SIM card for $1.68. The card Comes preloaded with minimum services. You can purchase more services as needed. They also offer social media packages and data-only packages.
Malitel is the second largest provider in Mali, which sells its starter SIM cards for $0.84. They also provide social media packages. Their services are cheaper than Orange and Telecel.
You can get a Telecel for $0.84 as well. Telecel is great for local use only.
Mauritania SIM Cards
There are three service providers in this Mauritania: Mauritel, Chinguitel, and Mattel. All of them have really bad service throughout the country and have been warned about it by the government. Do note that SIM cards in Mauritania are expensive for African standards. In fact, it is probably the most expensive country where you can buy a SIM card. Mauritel and Mattel sell their starter SIMs for $53.76.
As with many other countries, you will have to provide proof of ID.
After spending more than $50 on your Mauritel card, you still have to top up your card before you can start using it.
Chinguitel sells their starter SIM cards for $13.44, which is expensive for African standards, but much cheaper than the other providers. Moreover, the SIM card comes with $26.88 of preloaded credit, meaning that you do not have to top-up before you can use them. I would certainly recommend getting a Chinguitel SIM card over a Mauritel or Mattel one.
Just like with Mauritel, you have to spend more than $50 on your SIM card, which you cannot use until you top it up. They do have different recharge packages to choose from.
Mauritius SIM Cards
My.t, Emtel, and Chili are the three main service providers. To get a SIM card, you will need an ID.
You can get a starter SIM card for 2.73 from My.t, and the same counts for Emtel and Chili. Once you purchase the SIM card, it comes with some credit on it. You can start using it 2-3 days after purchase. It takes that long for the SIM to activate. All packages give you unlimited access to Facebook.
My.t plans range from $0.25 for 50 MB and 30 SMS for 24 hours to $75 for 50 GB and 500 SMS for a month.
Emtel charges lower prices than My.t for its packages but has the same great service.
My favorite Emtel plan costs $8 and comes with 1.5 GB of data per day for 30 days. If you manage to use more than 1.5 GB in a day, then your speeds will be throttled to 256 Kbps. Additionally, the plan comes with unlimited Facebook, too.
Chili is the cheapest provider of them all in terms of rates. One of Chili's “unlimited plans”, which is 1 GB/day for this particula plan, will cost you $8.60. Not bad!
Morocco SIM Cards
There are three main service providers: Maroc, Orange, and Inwi. To get a SIM card, you will need an ID.
You can buy a Maroc Telecom starter SIM card for $3.11. It is, however, hard to configure the services by yourself once you buy the SIM, so make sure that you have it all configured by your store before you leave.
An Orange starter SIM card costs $3.11, just like with Maroc Telecom. Coverage with Orange can be unreliable at times. After the last top-up, the SIM card remains active for up to a year.
An Inwi starter SIM card costs $2.01. Its services work the best in the main cities and towns. It is the smaller provider compared to Maroc Telecom and Orange but is cheaper than them.
Mozambique SIM Cards
Vodacom, mCel, and Movitel are the three SIM card providers. You can buy the SIM cards easily in towns at authorized dealers.
Usually, the locals have two or more SIM Cards to take advantage of similar SIM card operator discounts.
A Vodacom starter SIM card costs $0.79 and comes with 25 MB, 25 minutes, and 25 SMS.
Just like Vodacom, an mCel starter SIM card costs $0.79. Its services, however, can be unreliable at times.
For $0.07, you can buy a Movitel starter SIM card. It offers cheaper packages than the other providers, provides better service, and works better in rural areas.
Namibia SIM Cards
For your convenience, there are stores at the airport that sell the SIM cards to foreigners coming into the country. These stores help with purchase as well as set up of proper service.
If your phone takes a Micro or Nano chip, the stores will have a SIM card cutter to aid you.
You can purchase a starter SIM for $0.49. This will give you some credit you can use, after which you can top-up with new credits.
While a smaller network, it has competitive pricing and so a cheaper option.
Niger SIM Cards
Service on all four networks can be unreliable at times.
You can buy the starter SIM for $1.68, which comes with $0.34 in credit. After that, you can buy recharge cards for whatever service you need.
The starter SIM card is sold for $0.50 and comes with $0.42 in credit.
The starter SIM costs $0.34 and comes with $0.17 credits. This is the cheapest SIM card on the market.
This is the least reliable of the services and only has 2G and 3G service.
Nigeria SIM Cards
This is the most reliable service in Nigeria. Their starter SIM card costs between $0.55 to $0.83. They offer various packages, including social media packages.
Their starter SIM is also sold for up to $0.83. Just like MTN, they also have various top-up options to choose from.
Rwanda SIM Cards
There are three service providers in Rwanda: MTN, Airtel, and Kt Rwanda. All three require you to show your passport to purchase a SIM card. Additionally, you cannot purchase more than 2 SIM per company.
For the most part, they offer the same kind of packages and cost about the same.
São Tomé and Príncipe SIM Cards
São Tomé and Príncipe has two main cell phone service providers: CST and Unitel. Both provide really good coverage and cost about the same.
Just make sure you buy from an authorized retailer and that they help you set up your service.
Senegal SIM Cards
The best network provider for Senegal is Orange. It has the fastest most reliable service in the country. There are other cheaper options, but if you a tourist, I highly recommend sticking to this network.
The starter SIM costs about $1.68 and gives you service for the same amount, after which you can top-up.
Seychelles SIM Cards
The main cell phone network in Seychelles is Airtel. It provides fast and reliable service throughout the island.
A starter SIM will cost you about $3.67, which comes with a bit of credit.
All their bundles come with data. You cannot purchase just a data bundle.
Sierra Leone SIM Cards
There are a few network providers in Sierra Leone. The most reliable one out all is Orange. It costs about $0.21 to purchase the SIM card, after which you can top-up.
Just make sure you are buying from an authorized dealer and have a copy of your passport handy.
Somalia SIM Cards
Due to the political unrest in the southern part of the country, there is not any information about what kind of cell phone service they have available.
However, in the Northern part, known as Somaliland, there are a few service providers, including Somtel and Telesom, that have the most reliable and fast service.
South Africa SIM Cards
There are many network providers in South Africa. But you need a valid ID and an address to get a SIM card. If you are a tourist, make sure you have a copy of your reservation handy so that they can use your hotel address as your address.
The two main and most reliable network provider are:
Vodacom South Africa
You can get a Vodacom starter SIM card for $0.34. Vodacom is the leading and most reliable service provider in South Africa. They sell packages specifically for tourists and can be bought easily at major airports or in Vodacom stores.
MTN South Africa
MTN is Vodacom’s main competitor and sells starter SIM cards for $0.34 as well. They offer similar service and package options as Vodacom.
South Sudan SIM Cards
There is not much information available about telecom providers in South Sudan. This is still a fairly new and poor country. There is currently a civil war going on in the country. Until that ends, companies do not want to invest their money there.
Sudan SIM Cards
There are three major service providers in Sudan: Zain, Sudani, and MTN. The service is reliable most of the time; however, the data service is only available in major towns. On top of that, the government controls the internet, and so can block websites they consider inappropriate.
At times, they have completely shut off the internet as well.
All three providers have reliable service and similar pricing.
Tanzania SIM Cards
There are four major cell phone providers in Tanzania.
To get a SIM card, you will need to show a copy of your passport to register the SIM card.
For the most part, people use more than one SIM card per phone. This allows you to maximize your usage since calling and texting on the same network is either free or really cheap.
Once you buy a SIM card, topping up is easy. You can top up directly from your phone, at any kiosk, store, or even from a friend.
The three most popularly used networks are Vodacom, Airtel, and Tigo. Most people have these three or at least two out of the three SIM Cards.
All three provide reliable service throughout the country. A starter SIM can cost you about $1. And top-up amount varies based on your usage and is very reasonably priced.
Togo SIM Cards
There are two major network providers in Togo: Togocel, and Moov.
A starter SIM for either of them will run you about $5. After which you can add credits to your service via recharge cards.
Togocel has faster service but is a bit more expensive than Moov.
But both provide reliable service and have similar service plans.
Tunisia SIM Cards
There are three major service providers in Tunisia. However, only two are geared towards tourists and will provide you better options, albeit for a little more money.
You can buy a starter SIM for $3.50. The SIM card is valid for 90 days. Once you purchase the SIM, you can then choose from their package that will best serve your needs while there.
This SIM is also $3.50; however, once activated, it will give you 1GB of data and some credits to make calls. Also, international calls will be discounted at a 50% rate.
Uganda SIM Cards
Both of these companies offer fast, reliable, and affordable service. You can purchase a starter SIM for $0.54. This comes preloaded with some data and minutes to make local calls. The preloaded service will not be enough, so you will need to buy more credits depending on your usage.
When getting a SIM in Uganda, you will need your passport as a form of ID.
Zambia SIM Cards
There are three network providers in Zambia: MTN, Airtel, and Zamtel. However, only the first two are really reliable.
The pricing for both is very similar, and so is reliability. The telecom providers offer different kinds of packages, which include just Social Media and data packages.
You will need your passport to purchase and register your SIM.
Zimbabwe SIM Cards
There are three network providers in Zimbabwe. These are Econet Wireless, NetOne Cellular, and Telecel.
All three provide reliable service; however, Econet is the more expensive service out of the three because it provides more coverage throughout the country.
Additionally, data is really expensive in the country in general. So be prepared to pay steep prices for data. Your best bet to save some money would be to locate free WIFI services.
RELATED: Want to learn more about SIM cards in Zimbabwe? Check out my Zimbabwe SIM card buying guide with up-to-date and detailed information regarding prices and packages.
Most countries require you to provide a copy of your passport and passport size pictures to buy a SIM so they can register it.
Be prepared to pay taxes on all your usage. Some African countries charge tax on the usage of Social Media, VoIP, and the Internet in general.
Always purchase your SIM from an authorized dealer to minimize fraud. That is it, your ultimate guide to buying local SIM cards in Africa. Now, get out there and enjoy your time in Africa!
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