Buying a Prepaid SIM Card in Ivory Coast Guide

Logos of Telecom Operators in Ivory Coast: Orange Ivory Coast, MTN Ivory Coast, and Moov Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast is officially known as Côte d'Ivoire, which is the French name of the country. Ivory Coast is a French-speaking country in West Africa.

Ivory Coast is one of the few countries to have more than 1 capital. Yamoussoukro and Adidjan. Yamoussoukro is the administrative and political capital, while Abidjan is the economic capital.

Abidjan has the famous La Pyramida and is close to Banco National Park. Yamoussoukro has the impressive Yamoussoukro Basilica, which is a must see. Grand-Bassam is known as a resort city with many cool beaches, and Pleateau has many cathedrals. There is no reason to be bored in Ivory Coast.

In fact, you should be sharing your Ivory Coast experience with your friends and family to show how lovely the country is. Unfortunately, roaming with your provider in Ivory Coast can be costly because roaming can be expensive in many cases. That is why a Ivorian SIM card, a local SIM card, is a much more affordable option.

Mobile data rates are low compared to the world average, which is why you should take advantage of it.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Ivory Coast. Let's get started.

Telecom Providers in Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast has 3 telecom operators: Orange Ivory Coast, MTN Ivory Coast, and Moov Ivory Coast. All these operators have 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks.

There is, or was, a 4th operator called YooMee, which was a 4G/LTE-only operator that is/was active in Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast. However, their website is down, their Facebook has been inactive for ages, and nothing practical can be found about them online. I believe they shut down or got their license revoked. As a result, YooMee will not be discussed in this article until more information about them is known.

What SIM card should you buy when visiting Ivory Coast? If you want to buy a SIM card in Ivory Coast, I would recommend going with either Orange or MTN. Both operators have great coverage throughout Ivory Coast, and their coverage is on par. Orange is, however, the fastest operator in the country. Orange offers more data than MTN if you spend less than 5000 XOF on a data pack, while MTN starts offering more data for the same price compared to Orange if you spend more than 5000 XOF on data.

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Like most countries in West Africa, and Africa in general, you have to register yourself when buying a SIM card in Ivory Coast. And SIM cards can only be purchased in the official operator stores or from authorized resellers. Before 2017, you could buy your SIM cards on the streets. Top-up cards can, in contrast, still be purchased from street vendors.

There is not much more to say about Ivory Coast, so let’s see what they have to offer to us.

Orange Ivory Coast

Orange Logo

Orange Ivory Coast, just Orange, is the largest operator in Ivory Coast with a market share of around 45%. They also have the best coverage, together with MTN Ivory Coast, and the fastest speeds.

You can buy an Orange SIM card for 500 XOF ($0.85) with 500 XOF in credit in Orange stores and from authorized resellers.  Recharge cards are sold almost everywhere in Ivory Coast. To top-up, dial *123*VoucherCode#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, then you would dial *123*123456#. Dial #122# to check your Orange balance.

Orange sells combo packs and data-only packs. Let’s go through each of them.

Orange Pass Mix

Orange has several Pass Mix plans which come with data, minutes, and SMS, ranging from 24 hours to 30 days. The following 8 Pass Mix bundles are available:

  • 150 XOF: 15 MB, 10 minutes, and 15 SMS for 24 hours. Activation: dial #111*111#
  • 300 XOF: 50 MB, 30 minutes, and 30 SMS for 24 hours. Activation: dial #111*112#
  • 500 XOF: 200 MB, 40 minutes, and 50 SMS for 24 hours. Activation: dial #111*113#
  • 1000 XOF: 400 MB, 100 minutes, and 100 SMS for 2 days. Activation: dial #111*114#
  • 3000 XOF: 2.5 GB, 200 minutes, and 200 SMS for 7 days. Activation: dial #111*115#
  • 5000 XOF: 4 GB, 350 minutes, and 500 SMS for 7 days. Activation: dial #111*116#
  • 10 000 XOF: 9 GB, 480 minutes, and 650 SMS for 15 days. Activation: dial #111*117#
  • 20 000 XOF: 20 GB, 1000 minutes, and 1000 SMS for 30 days. Activation: dial #111*118#

Orange Pass Réseaux Sociaux

Are you a fan of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube, and Dailymotion? Orange has 2 Pass Réseaux Sociaux bundles that come with data for those apps specifically (no voice- or video calls with Facebook and WhatsApp). All these plans can be activated by dialing Activation: dial #111*121#:

  • 100 XOF: 65 MB for social apps for 24 hours
  • 300 XOF: 225 MB for social apps for 24 hours

Are you active during the night? Orange has Orange Pass Nuit, which is a 100 MB data plan, for 100 XOF, that can be used only between 12 AM and 6 PM.

Orange Pass Jour, Semaine, and Mois

Do you only need data? Orange has 10 data-only plans that are valid for a day (pass jour), a week (pass semaine), or month (pass mois):

  • 100 XOF: 40 MB for 24 hours. Activation: dial #111*122#
  • 200 XOF: 85 MB for 24 hours. Activation: dial #111*122#
  • 500 XOF: 280 MB for 24 hours. Activation: dial #111*122#
  • 600 XOF: 350 MB for 24 hours. Activation: dial #111*122#
  • 1500 XOF: 750 MB for 7 days. Activation: dial #111*123#
  • 2500 XOF: 1500 MB for 7 days. Activation: dial #111*123#
  • 5000 XOF: 2.5 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial #111*124#
  • 10 000 XOF: 6 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial #111*124#
  • 15 000 XOF: 10 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial #111*124#
  • 20 000 XOF: 15 GB for 30 days. Activation: dial #111*124#

MTN Ivory Coast

MTN Logo

MTN Ivory Coast, just MTN, is the second-largest operator in Ivory Coast with a market share of around 35%. MTN’ coverage is on par with Orange’s coverage, but MTN is slightly slower.

MTN is cheaper in some way because if you spend at least 5000 XOF on a data plan, you will get 0.5 GB to 1 GB more than what Orange would offer. On the other hand, if you spend less than 5000 XOF on data, then Orange provides more data, but we are only talking about a handful of MB.

MTN SIM cards can be bought for 500 XOF in MTN stores. To check your MTN balance, dial #100#.

MTN has 9 internet packages, called Offer Internet mobile, which all can be activated by dialing *105*2#:

  • 500 XOF: 250 MB for 3 days
  • 1000 XOF: 530 MB for 7 days
  • 1900 XOF: 980 MB for 7 days
  • 2500 XOF: 1450 MB for 1 month
  • 5000 XOF: 3 GB for 1 month
  • 10 000 XOF: 7 GB for 1 month
  • 15 000 XOF: 11 GB for 1 month
  • 20 000 XOF: 16 GB for 1 month
  • 30 000 XOF: 25 GB for 1 month
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Moov Ivory Coast

Moov Logo

Moov Ivory Coast, just Moov, is the smallest operator in Ivory Coast. They have the worst coverage throughout Ivory Coast, but calling and texting on 2G should be fine because their 2G network is as extensive as Orange and MTN. But 2G is useless for data usage.

Moov SIM cards are called Kit IZY and are sold for 500 XOF in Moov stores and at authorized resellers. The Kit IZY SIM Card comes with 100 MB, 2500 XOF in credit, and 200 SMS for 7 days. Ask for the 4G Kit IZY SIM card if planning on using Moov’s 4G/LTE network.

To top-up, dial *101*VoucherCode#. For example, if your voucher code is 123456, then you would dial *101*123456#. Dial #100# to check your Moov balance.

Moov has 9 data packages, called Internet Mobile, which can be activated by dialing *303*3*1#. Dial *303*3*2*1# to check your data balance:

  • 100 XOF: 100 MB between 12 AM and 6 AM
  • 200 XOF: 30 MB for 1 hour
  • 450 XOF: 100 MB for 24 hours
  • 550 XOF: 250 MB for a weekend (Saturday and Sunday)
  • 1500 XOF: 500 MB for 7 days
  • 4900 XOF: 1 GB for 30 days
  • 9900 XOF: 3 GB for 30 days
  • 14 900 XOF: 5 GB for 30 days
  • 19 000 XOF: 10 GB for 30 days

Need a plan for social media apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Viber? Moov has 2 social bundles:

  • 200 XOF: 150 MB for social apps for 1 day
  • 500 XOF: 450 MB for social apps for 7 days

Dial *303*3*1# to activate a Moov social bundle.

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Ivory Coast

So far, you have been informed about the SIM card options in Ivory Coast. However, that is not the only way to be online in Ivory Coast. I have already briefly mentioned that you can roam with your provider, although it can be expensive in most cases. Besides that, you can use free WIFI connections, mobile hotspots, or international SIM cards.

Roaming in Ivory Coast with Your Provider

Roaming is a term used in wireless telecommunication that indicates a mobile device is outside the range of its home network and has connected to a different, available cell network. Let’s say your provider is Telma from Madagascar, then you would be roaming with Telma in Ivory Coast.

You may have read horror stories of people coming back from a lovely holiday, only to be confronted with a roaming bill in the thousands. This can still be the case if you do not review your roaming options before going on a holiday. Luckily for you, I have written about the roaming options you have with various providers around the world, which you can read here.

Some operators offer roaming plans. Others allow you to roam for free in Ivory Coast, while several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee. As you can see, roaming does not have to be a horrific experience. If your provider is generous and lets you roam for free in Ivory Coast, then you do not even need a local SIM card (although I would still recommend doing so, as your connection speed will be much slower as a roamer than someone who is a customer of the network).

No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!

Pay As You Go roaming should be avoided, as that is how travelers get high roaming bills. One provider charges you about 1000 USD per GB in certain destinations, which is insane. If you really want to roam, check whether your provider has attractive roaming plans. Else, you will be better off with buying a local SIM card.

Using Free WIFI connections in Ivory Coast

This does not require a lot of explanation, but using free WIFI connections is the cheapest way to connect to the internet because you do not have to pay anything. Nothing beats free stuff, right? Well, not so fast.

First, you need to find hotspots in Ivory Coast. In some countries of cities, you will find so many hotspots that you can try them out one by one and find the one with the fastest speeds. In other places, however, WIFI connections do not seem to exist.

In the case of Ivory Coast, you will find many hotspots, but many of them will be slow.

Additionally, public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. They are a prime target for hackers to steal your data and use it for illicit purposes. That is I use, and would recommend you to start using, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you connect to a public hotspot. What a VPN does is creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and the hotspot so that your data will stay private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get your subscription now or learn more about NordVPN.

Using a Pocket WIFI (Mobile Hotspot) in Ivory Coast

Pocket WIFI is a portable, battery-powered wireless router that allows you to connect your phone, laptop, or tablet without needing multiple SIM cards for those devices to be connected to the internet. They are compact and lightweight so that you take them along with you whenever you need internet access on the go.

Many companies have created mobile hotspots (just have a quick search on Amazon, for example, you will find many). Skyroam, Vision Global Wireless, and Travelwifi are reputable pocket WIFI providers I know. You can get a discount if you rent a router through Skyroam by using coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ. Cellular access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day while using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Travelwifi offers Teppy, the name of the pocket WIFI, starting from $7 per day. All these services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.

Vision Global Wireless Banner

I often recommend mobile hotspots to those who are traveling in groups or with families. They can save groups a lot of money if they are visiting destinations where buying multiple SIM cards would become an expensive endeavor.

I recently wrote an article analyzing the 7 Best Mobile Hotspots for Travelers like yourself, which should be an interesting read if pocket WIFI is something you are considering. I do reviews of individual devices every now and then, so check out my mobile hotspot category to stay up to date.

Getting an International SIM card for Traveling in Ivory Coast

International SIM cards are, as the name implies, SIM cards for international use. Well, that does not explain anything. Although most providers allow you to use your card abroad, some actually restrict this possibility. An international SIM card lets you go abroad without having to change SIM cards when visiting multiple destinations. They have been made with the traveler in mind.

All of this sounds lovely, but international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in Ivory Coast. Not only that, some offer poor service as well for high rates. Some reputable companies I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner.

OneSimCard Banner

International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. Many countries in Africa require you to register before you can use a SIM card, which can be a hassle for some. Additionally, the language barrier may be off-putting to some travelers, which is why an international SIM card can be handy. You order it before you depart and can use it in various destinations.

My recommendation, however, is to get a local SIM card if you are only visiting one destination. If you are visiting multiple ones, an international SIM card could be handy. If you want to learn more about international SIM cards, check out my international SIM card comparison article, where I analyze 10 international SIM card providers so that you do not have to.

The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Ivory Coast

Getting a SIM card from Orange or MTN would do you well when considering an Ivorian SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.

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You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards like OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots like Skyroam, Vision Global Wireless, and Travelwifi will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.

Going to other countries in East Africa and Southeast Africa? Check out my East Africa SIM card buying guide, covering other East African nations, such as Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eswatini (Swaziland) Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mozambique, Réunion, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

What about other places in Africa? My Africa SIM card buying guide covers all African destinations, such as Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, and Tunisia.

Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.

What is next?

Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!

Book Your Flight for Ivory Coast

It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to Ivory Coast. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Ivory Coast drop.

Book Your Accommodation for Ivory Coast

I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in Ivory Coast. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in an Ivorian hotel.

Get Your Travel Insurance for Ivory Coast

You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in Ivory Coast, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.

Get a Travel Debit Card

Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to West African CFA Franc for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.

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Enjoy your trip!

Ernest Adu

Ernest Adu, going by just Adu, is the founder and editor at Phone Travel Wiz. He has been a traveler for 6 years. Although from Europe, the Netherlands, Adu's favorite region in Asia, in particular, East and Southeast Asia. He currently lives in Tainan, Taiwan, and plans on exploring Oceania and more of East and Southeast Asia.

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