To save yourself a lot of money when traveling in Eswatini, it is best to buy yourself a Swazi SIM card and take advantage of local packages to keep costs low.
You can buy a Swazi SIM card for as little as 10 SZL (0.60 USD) and get a data package with 1 GB of data for 70 SZL (4.20 USD) – that is quite cheap for African standards.
Even if you visit Eswatini from South Africa, or Mozambique for that matter, you would want to get a Swazi SIM card because roaming with a Mozambican or South African provider in Eswatini is relatively expensive, let alone if your provider is from another country in Africa or elsewhere in the world.
Mobile data rates are a bit more expensive in Eswatini compared to South African standards (not just South Africa as the country, but South Africa as a region). However, they are still low compared to the world average, so you should definitely take advantage of the local rates.
In this guide, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Eswatini. Let’s do this.
Original publication: 20th of June 2020. Last updated: 28th of October 2020.
Can I Use my Phone in Eswatini?
Eswatini has GSM networks utilizing frequencies used in many regions around the world (such as Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania – ITU Regions 1 & 3), but not in the Americas (North-, Central-, and South America + the Caribbean – ITU Region 2).
If you purchased your phone in the Americas, if your device has not been unlocked, or the phone does not support Eswatini‘s frequencies, then you cannot use your phone in Eswatini.
Mobile Operators, Networks, and Frequencies in Eswatini
Eswatini has 2 mobile operators:
- MTN Eswatini
- Eswatini Mobile
Both operators have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks.
The following frequencies are used by the Swazi operators:
- 2G: 900 MHz
- 3G: 2100 MHz
- 4G/LTE: 1800 MHz (Band 3)
Again, make sure your phone is unlocked. Otherwise, you will not be able to use any SIM card except the one from your home operator (meaning you have to roam internationally or buy another unlocked phone that does support the frequencies listed above).
If you want to learn how international roaming works, this guide explains it in-depth. If you wonder why it is often so expensive to roam, this article explains the hidden reason they do not want you to know.
The Best SIM Card in Eswatini
If you want to buy a SIM card in Eswatini, then MTN is the best option. MTN has the best coverage in Eswatini and is, on average, cheaper than Eswatini Mobile.
SIM Card Registration Regulations in Eswatini
SIM card registration with your passport information is mandatory in Eswatini. It will be done at the point of purchase.
The State of the Swazi Telecom Market
Eswatini is a landlocked country, which often means that (mobile) internet rates are higher compared to countries next to seas and oceans. Eswatini relies on neighboring countries for internet bandwidth.
Before Eswatini Mobile entered the Swazi telecom market, many locals were upset by the high rates charged by MTN Eswatini. Since then, with a combination of a drop in internet bandwidth rates, internet prices have dropped in Eswatini.
Surprisingly, MTN Eswatini is the cheaper option in the country at the moment when adding up the total GB offered with their data-only packs (Volume-Based Data Bundles for MTN Eswatini, Data Bundles for Eswatini Mobile) divided by the sum of charges for data.
It is understood that this excludes many of the other types of bundles, like the combo bundles. It may not be an accurate representation of the average price charged by the Swazi operators. Still, it does give a quick snapshot of the price difference between the two operators.
However, it is expected that Eswatini Mobile will lower its prices once they have finished their 5-year investment plan in 2022.
Currency in Eswatini
Eswatini uses the Swazi Lilangeni with the symbol SZL (which will be used throughout this guide). Prices in Eswatini are listed in E. For example, 25 SZL is E25. For reference, below are some exchange rates between SZL and USD (US Dollars – Rounded):
- 1 SZL = 0.05 USD
- 10 SZL = 0.55 USD
- 100 SZL = 5.70 USD
- 1000 SZL = 57.15 USD
- 10 000 SZL = 571.45 USD
Do note that the Swazi Lilangeni is pegged 1:1 to the South African Rand (ZAR). Moreover, you can use ZAR in Eswatini (although you will get change back in SZL), but SZL is barely accepted in South Africa.
If your credit/debit card charges you foreign exchange fees, get yourself a Transferwise Borderless Account and Debit Card. Their fees are MUCH lower than banks, and credit card companies charge you (and Transferwise is transparent about their fees, unlike banks). I have saved literal THOUSANDS of Euros, my main currency, when using Transferwise abroad when traveling compared to my debit and credit cards. Open a Transferwise account FREE!
Swazi Prepaid SIM Cards
- Background information
- SIM card types, prices, and availability
- Recharge / top-up information
- Combo plans, data plans, and special packs (such as social media packs)
With that being said, let’s see what MTN Eswatini and Eswatini Mobile have to offer to us.
MTN Eswatini, also known as MTN Swazi but will be referred to as only “MTN,” is the largest operator in Eswatini. They also have the best coverage in the country.
MTN Eswatini Coverage
MTN has the best coverage in Eswatini, mainly because they have been operating as a monopoly for a long time.
MTN does not have a coverage map on their website, so I will use a map produced by the Speedtest App, which quite a reliable source.
Getting an MTN Eswatini Prepaid SIM Card & Price
MTN SIM cards, called MTN Pay As You Go, are sold for 10 SZL in MTN stores.
Recharging your MTN Eswatini SIM Card
MTN top-up vouchers are widely available throughout Eswatini. To top-up, dial *141*VoucherCode#.
For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *141*123456#. Dial either *556# or *557# to check your MTN balance.
MTN Eswatini Internet Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers
MTN has several types of combo bundles and data-only bundles:
- Saver Combos (combo plans)
- Pulse (youth-focused data-only plans)
- Time-Based Data Bundles (short-term data-only plans)
- Volume Based Data Bundles (standard data-only plans)
- Social Data (app-specific data-only add-ons)
- Tourist Pack (tourist packages)
Let’s go through each of them. Click on the links above to jump to the plan you are interested in.
MTN Eswatini Saver Combos
The Saver Combos are combo plans that come with data, minutes, and SMS. Saver Combos can be activated by dialing *686#.
You have the following eight options:
|55 SZL||150 MB||30 minutes||10 SMS||7 days|
|115 SZL||450 MB||60 minutes||20 SMS||7 days|
|160 SZL||1 GB||100 minutes||30 SMS||30 days|
|180 SZL||800 MB||100 minutes||30 SMS||7 days|
|220 SZL||1 GB||150 minutes||50 SMS||30 days|
|250 SZL||1.5 GB||100 minutes||50 SMS||30 days|
|360 SZL||3 GB||300 minutes||100 SMS||30 days|
|650 SZL||5 GB||500 minutes||200 SMS||30 days|
MTN Eswatini Pulse
The Pulse plans are combo plans targeting those to up to 25 years old.
Those who are 16 years old or younger can take advantage of mPulse, which comes with 5 free minutes for a day or week, depending on the type of Pulse package they buy (so you need to buy a bundle before you get free minutes).
Young adults between 17 and 25 years old can take advantage of Pulse, which comes with free Twitter for a day or a week, depending on the type of Pulse package they buy.
There is also something called Pulse Pro, but that is available to postpaid customers only, which will not be discussed in this guide.
The following eight Pulse bundles are available, which can be activated by dialing *411#:
|5 SZL||10 MB||20 minutes||1 day|
|5 SZL||25 MB||5 minutes||1 day|
|10 SZL||20 MB||40 minutes||1 day|
|10 SZL||50 MB||15 minutes||1 day|
|15 SZL||50 MB||60 minutes||7 days|
|15 SZL||100 MB||30 minutes||7 days|
|20 SZL||80 MB||90 minutes||7 days|
|50 SZL||500 MB||50 minutes||30 days|
MTN Eswatini Time-Based Data Bundles
Time-Based Bundles are short-term data-only bundles. They are known as Rush Hour Bundles, which are hourly data bundles, and Loloma Bundles, which are unlimited data bundles for an hour up to 4 hours between 23:00 and 5:00 (11 PM – 5 AM).
MTN Eswatini Rush Hour Bundles
There are four Rush Hour Bundles available, which can be activated by dialing *686*1*4#:
|1 SZL||2 MB||1 hour|
|2.50 SZL||10 MB||1 hour|
|10 SZL||45 MB||1 hour|
|20 SZL||100 MB||1 hour|
MTN Eswatini Loloma Bundles
There are four Loloma Bundles available, which can be activated by dialing *686*1*4#:
|10 SZL||Unlimited||1 hour||23:00-5:00 (11 PM-5 AM)|
|25 SZL||Unlimited||2 hours||23:00-5:00 (11 PM-5 AM)|
|30 SZL||Unlimited||3 hours||23:00-5:00 (11 PM-5 AM)|
|40 SZL||Unlimited||4 hours||23:00-5:00 (11 PM-5 AM)|
MTN Eswatini Volume Data Bundles
The Volume Data Bundles are standard data-only bundles. They come in daily, weekly, and monthly variants. You get the same data allowance that can be used at night between 23:00 and 5:00 (11 PM – 5 AM).
For example, if you get a 1 GB data plan, you will get an additional 1 GB allowance for at night, making your total data allowance 2 GB.
All Volume Data Bundles can be activated by dialing *66*1*1#.
The following Volume Data Bundles are available:
|Price||Data||Night Data Bonus||Validity|
|2 SZL||8 MB||8 MB||1 day|
|5 SZL||23 MB||23 MB||1 day|
|10 SZL||47 MB||47 MB||1 day|
|17 SZL||185 MB||185 MB||7 days|
|25 SZL||500 MB||500 MB||7 days|
|40 SZL||200 MB||200 MB||30 days|
|60 SZL||350 MB||350 MB||30 days|
|70 SZL||1 GB||1 GB||7 days|
|80 SZL||500 MB||500 MB||30 days|
|150 SZL||1 GB||1 GB||30 days|
|250 SZL||2 GB||2 GB||30 days|
|350 SZL||3 GB||3 GB||30 days|
|450 SZL||5 GB||5 GB||30 days|
|550 SZL||7 GB||7 GB||30 days|
|750 SZL||10 GB||10 GB||30 days|
|1000 SZL||1.5 GB/day (45 GB in total)||None||30 days|
|1100 SZL||15 GB||15 GB||30 days|
|1250 SZL||20 GB||20 GB||30 days|
|1500 SZL||25 GB||25 GB||30 days|
The Social Data Bundles are data bundles for WhatsApp only, Facebook only, YouTube only, or a bunch of study-related websites.
All Social Data Bundles can be activated by dialing *686*1*2#.
The following Social Data Bundles are available:
|5 SZL||30 MB||1 day|
|5 SZL||30 MB||1 day|
|10 SZL||500 MB||Study||1 day|
|10 SZL||1.5 GB||YouTube||1 day|
|20 SZL||150 MB||7 days|
|20 SZL||150 MB||7 days|
|20 SZL||1 GB||Study||7 days|
|20 SZL||3 GB||YouTube||7 days|
|40 SZL||360 MB||30 days|
|40 SZL||360 MB||30 days|
|50 SZL||3 GB||Study||30 days|
|65 SZL||5 GB||YouTube||30 days|
The following sites fall under your Study Data Bundle data allowance:
The study bundles may not be useful for tourists and travelers. However, they can be helpful for exchange students, which is why I still mention them in this guide.
MTN Eswatini Tourist Pack
The Tourist Pack is MTN's SIM card targeting tourists visiting Eswatini. The Tourist Pack costs 99 SZL and comes with 1 GB, 45 on-net minutes, and 15 international minutes, and they are sold at MTN stores at border entry points.
The Tourist Pack has three weekly bundles available:
|Price||Data||On-Net Minutes||International Minutes|
|99 SZL||1 GB||45 minutes||15 minutes|
|150 SZL||2 GB||50 minutes||15 minutes|
|299 SZL||5GB||50 minutes||30 minutes|
It is not entirely clear whether one can buy one of the regular data bundles with a tourist SIM card. MTN claims that “[…] the customer (tourist) must have bought the preloaded starter pack that has the 99 SZL value of tourist bundle” and later states that “The bundles are as below,“ which are the bundles listed above.
MTN Eswatini APN Settings
In most cases, your phone will retrieve the correct MTN Eswatini APN settings automatically. If you need to enter it manually, then you need the following details (do not add anything not mentioned below):
- Name: MTN Swaziland
- APN: mymtn.co.sz
Eswatini Mobile, which was known as Swazi Mobile before the country changed names, is the newest operator in the country. Eswatini Mobile was awarded a license to break up MTN’s monopoly. Initially, Eswatini Mobile used MTN’s towers before building their own network, but they now have their own network.
Eswatini Mobile Coverage
Eswatini has a list of towns they cover, which is more than 85 towns.
However, showing you a table of towns you have never heard of or will not visit would not be helpful.
Instead, I will show you a coverage map provided with the Network Checker on the Speedtest app.
Getting an Eswatini Mobile Prepaid SIM Card & Price
You can buy Eswatini Mobile SIM cards for 50 SZL in Eswatini Mobile stores. The SIM cards come with 50 SZL in credit.
Recharging your Eswatini Mobile SIM Card
Eswatini Mobile recharge vouchers are sold everywhere throughout Eswatini. To top-up, dial *200*VoucherCode*.
For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *200*123456#. Dial *202# to check your Eswatini Mobile balance.
Eswatini Mobile Internet Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers
Eswatini has several types of combo plans and data-only plans, which are:
- No Frills Contracts (combo plans)
- Prepaid Plans (combo plans)
- Data Bundles (data-only plans)
- YouTube Bundles (app-specific plans/add-ons)
Let’s go through each of them. Click on the links above to jump to the plan you are interested in.
Eswatini Mobile No Frills Contracts
The No Frills Contracts are combo bundles. Although the name includes contract, it is a prepaid bundle.
Unlike the Prepaid Plans mentioned later, No Frills Contracts expire at the end of the month, not the usual 28-31 days. This means that if you buy a No Frills Contract on the 25th of the month, you can use your allowance for only 3-6 days, depending on the length of the month.
The following four No Frills Contracts are available, which can be activated by dialing *222#:
|Price||Data||On-Net Minutes||Off-Net Minutes||Local SMS||Unlimited Calls|
|50 SZL||500 MB||250 on-net minutes||50 off-net minutes||50 SMS||On Saturdays|
|100 SZL||1 GB||300 on-net minutes||60 off-net minutes||60 SMS||On Saturdays & Sundays|
|195 SZL||2 GB||600 on-net minutes||120 off-net minutes||120 SMS||On Sundays between 6:00-18:00 (6 AM-6PM)|
|295 SZL||8 GB||Unlimited on-net minutes||150 off-net minutes||150 SMS||N/A|
No Frills Contracts auto-renew. To cancel auto-renewal, dial *241*PackageAmount#.
For example, if you purchased the 100 SZL package and want to cancel it, you would dial *241*100#.
Eswatini Mobile Prepaid Plans
Prepaid Plans are combo plans that come with data, on-net minutes, off-net minutes, and SMS.
The following seven Prepaid Plans are available:
|Price||Data||On-Net Minutes||Off-Net Minutes||Local SMS||Validity|
|5 SZL||5 MB||30 on-net minutes||5 off-net minutes||5 SMS||24 hours|
|10 SZL||10 MB||70 on-net minutes||10 off-net minutes||10 SMS||24 hours|
|50 SZL||50 MB||250 on-net minutes||50 off-net minutes||50 SMS||7 days|
|195 SZL||1 GB||500 on-net minutes||100 off-net minutes||50 SMS||30 days|
|240 SZL||60 MB||60 on-net minutes||N/A||60 SMS||Allowance renewed every 30 days, the plan expires after 365 days|
|295 SZL||2 GB||750 on-net minutes||200 off-net minutes||75 SMS||30 days|
|495 SZL||4 GB||1000 on-net minutes||400 off-net minutes||100 SMS||30 days|
Eswatini Mobile Data Bundles
The Data Bundles are data-only bundles.
Besides data you can use whenever you want, you get a 50% data bonus to be used at night (unknown timeframe).
For example, if you get a 10 MB data plan, you will get an additional 5 MB to be used at night, making your total data allowance 15 MB.
The following 16 Data Bundles are available, which are all valid for 30 days:
|2 SZL||7 MB||3.5 MB|
|5 SZL||20 MB||10 MB|
|10 SZL||30 MB||15 MB|
|20 SZL||40 MB||20 MB|
|25 SZL||70 MB||35 MB|
|30 SZL||100 MB||50 MB|
|35 SZL||130 MB||65 MB|
|50 SZL||200 MB||100 MB|
|90 SZL||400 MB||200 MB|
|100 SZL||512 MB||256 MB|
|150 SZL||1 GB||512 MB|
|295 SZL||2.5 GB||1.25 GB|
|500 SZL||5 GB||2.5 GB|
|700 SZL||7.5 GB||3.75 GB|
|800 SZL||10 GB||5 GB|
You can also get a YouTube Bundle in addition to your Data Bundle so that you do not exhaust your data bundle allowance. You could call them add-ons.
You have the following three options:
|10 SZL||1 GB||1 day|
|20 SZL||2.5 GB||1 day|
|35 SZL||5 GB||1 day|
Eswatini Mobile APN Settings
In most cases, your phone will retrieve the correct Eswatini Mobile APN settings automatically. If you need to enter it manually, then you need the following details (do not add anything not mentioned below):
- Name: Swazi Mobile
- APN: internet
Other Ways to Get Online When Traveling in Eswatini
Getting a Swazi SIM card is probably the cheapest way to connect to the internet when traveling in Eswatini. Not even the roaming packages MTN South Africa or operators from Mozambique come close to the local Swazi rates.
International SIM Cards or Travel SIM Cards
International SIM cards or Travel SIM cards are made for the traveler in mind – you do not have to buy a local SIM card for every country you visit, and they are cheaper than international roaming.
International SIM cards and Travel SIM cards are SIM cards that can be used internationally.
Yes, almost all SIM cards allow you to use them internationally (with international roaming), but international SIM cards are often cheaper than international roaming rates, and they sometimes work in more countries than your operator covers.
Sadly, many international SIM cards and travel SIM cards have unfavorable rates for most African nations – Eswatini included.
However, Surfroam is one of the international SIM cards that does have reasonable prices for Eswatini. It is worth taking a look because they have amazing rates for many countries around the world (starting as low as €0.01/MB).
With such low mobile data rates in Namibia, it will be hard to find an international SIM card or travel SIM card that will offer better rates.
You can learn more about international SIM cards and travel SIM cards on this page.
Although international roaming can be expensive in many cases, it does not always have to be the case.
Be aware that international roaming can be all fun and games until you receive a roaming bill in the thousands.
If you are traveling from any other country that South Africa or other countries in Southern Africa, you may not want to roam – unless you have too much money.
This video below explains why international roaming is criminally expensive.
Mobile hotspots, or pocket WIFI, are small devices that connect to the local operators of the country you are visiting. Mobile hotspots are ideal for families or those traveling in a large group. They allow you to connect multiple devices to one hotspot without each traveler having to buy a SIM card.
Sadly, the companies that rent out mobile hotspots do not cover Eswatini. Or they do so at excessive rates.
It is also possible to buy a mobile hotspot one and insert a SIM card in it. Then, multiple users can connect to it without every individual having to buy their own SIM cards and plans – it an save you a lot of money.
Free WIFI Networks
Nothing beats free, including free WIFI networks. The major downside of trying to use WIFI hotspots is that you will have to locate them – they are not available all the time, especially when on the road. The main benefit is… that they are free.
You can find quite a few free WIFI hotspots Eswatini. However, they can be slow. If you manage to find one, however, make sure to protect your internet traffic with a VPN so that hackers cannot steal your personal data.
The Preferred Way to Stay Online When Traveling in Eswatini
Getting a SIM card from MTN (best coverage and lower prices) would do you well when considering a Swazi SIM card.
Local Prepaid SIM Card in Other African Countries
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