Rwanda is know for its deep valleys, savannahs, and its nature and wildlife in general.
Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, has the Kimironko Market, which is a market you have to visit. They also have the Kigali Genocide Memorial, which is a site honoring the Rwandan genocide victims.
Lake Kivu is a beautiful lake, which is great for swimming or watersport activities. Nyungwe Forest National Park has a stunning rainforest and the Canopy Walkway suspension bridge, which is an experience on its own. You will also see many chimpanzees there. In short, there is no reason to be bored in Rwanda.
You should share your experiences of Rwanda online. However, you would be better off getting a Rwandan SIM card because roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer getting a local SIM card.
Mobile data rates are low in Rwanda 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 Rwanda. Let's get started, shall we?
Original publication: 11th of May 2020. Last updated: 20th of October 2022.
Table of Contents
Telecom Providers in Rwanda
Rwanda has 3 telecom providers: MTN Rwanda, Airtel Rwanda, and KT Rwanda. Both MTN Rwanda and Airtel Rwanda have 2G and 3G networks. KT Rwanda is a 4G/LTE-only operator that offers 4G/LTE to MTN Rwanda and Airtel Rwanda. In short, MTN Rwanda and Airtel Rwanda offer 4G/LTE through KT Rwanda.
Best SIM Card in Rwanda
If you want to buy a SIM card in Rwanda, I would recommend going with either MTN, Airtel, or KT Rwanda. MTN and Airtel have great coverage throughout Rwanda with their 2G network, while 3G coverage can only be found in populated areas. KT Rwanda’s 4G/LTE network is incredibly fast, which means that MTN’s and Airtel’s 4G networks are blazing fast too.
Do note that 4G/LTE is only at 800 MHz (Band 20). If your device does not support this frequency, then you cannot use 4G/LTE in Rwanda.
SIM Card Registration Regulations in Rwanda
Like most countries in East Africa, and Africa in general, you have to register yourself when buying a SIM card in Rwanda. Additionally, take a copy of your passport with you as you need it, and the store may not want to make a copy for you. When purchasing a Rwandan SIM card, you will be required to fill in a registration form. The whole registration process can take up to 30 minutes.
Moreover, Rwandan citizens and residents can have a total of 3 SIM cards per operator on their name. In contrast, foreigners can have only 1 SIM card per operator and exclusively from MTN Rwanda and Airtel Rwanda. If you want to buy a SIM card for your child, you can, but approval is needed from RURA, the telecom regulator in Rwanda.
With that said, let’s see what Rwanda has to offer to us.
MTN Rwanda, just MTN, is the largest operator in Rwanda. They have the best coverage… for 2G, which is useless for data usage. 3G coverage can be found in the population centers.
SIM Card Price – MTN Rwanda
MTN SIM cards are sold for 500 RWF in MTN stores and Kigali International Airport. Ask for their 4G/LTE SIM card if you plan on using KT Rwanda’s 4G/LTE network. Top-up vouchers are sold there too, at M-Charge outlets, and in many other stores. To top-up, dial *111*VoucherCode#. For example, if your voucher code 123456, you would dial *111*123456#. Dial *110# to check your MTN balance.
- Find out how much SIM cards cost in every country, including data-only SIM cards and tourist SIM cards, offered by each mobile operator + information about starter benefits (lookup tool)
MTN has MTN Internet Bundles, which are on 3G (3.75G) speeds, and MTN 4G LTE on Prepaid plans, which are on MTN’s 4G/LTE network. These plans will last you a day all the way up to a month. Let’s start with the MTN Internet Bundles.
MTN Internet Bundles (3G)
The MTN Internet Bundles are sold in daily, weekly, and monthly variants. Internet bundles also come with an SMS allowance. All MTN Internet Bundles can be purchased by dialing *345#. Dial *345*5# to check your Internet Bundle balance.
The following 5 Daily Internet Bundles, which are valid for 24 hours, are available:
- 100 RWF: 15 MB
- 200 RWF: 50 MB
- 350 RWF: 100 MB
- 500 RWF: 200 MB
- 1000 RWF: 1 GB
Need data for a week? Then one of these 3 MTN Weekly Internet Bundles may be interesting:
- 1000 RWF: 500 MB
- 2000 RWF: 1.5 GB
- 5000 RWF: 1 GB/day (max. 7 GB)
Staying in Rwanda for a month? MTN has 8 Monthly Internet Bundles to choose from:
- 1000 RWF: 300 MB
- 2000 RWF: 1 GB
- 5000 RWF: 3 GB
- 10 000 RWF: 10 GB
- 21 000 RWF: 1 GB/day (max. 30 GB)
- 25 000 RWF: 30 GB
- 25 000 RWF: 2 GB/day (max. 60 GB)
- 30 000 RWF: 3 GB/day (max. 90 GB)
MTN 4G LTE on Prepaid Bundles
MTN themselves do not have a 4G/LTE network (yet), although it is unlikely that they will build their own 4G/LTE network in the future. Instead, they use the 4G/LTE network of KT Rwanda. If you have an old MTN SIM card, then you can change it to a 4G SIM card for 1000 RWF.
MTN 4G LTE on Prepaid Bundles are sold as 4G daily bundles, 4G weekly bundles, 4G monthly volume-based bundles, and 4G daily capped. Dial *345# to activate your bundle of choice, and dial *345*5# to check your Internet Bundle balance.
The following 11 MTN 4G LTE on Prepaid Bundles are available:
- 500 RWF: 150 MB for 24 hours
- 1500 RWF: 500 MB for 24 hours
- 3000 RWF: 1 GB for 7 days
- 8000 RWF: 3 GB for 7 days
- 10 000 RWF: 4 GB for 7 days
- 15 000 RWF: 5 GB for 30 days
- 20 000 RWF: 7 GB for 30 days
- 30 000 RWF: 13 GB for 30 days
- 30 000 RWF: 500 MB/day (max. 15 GB) for 30 days
- 50 000 RWF: 1 GB/day (max. 30 GB) for 30 days
- 130 000 RWF: 3 GB/day (max. 90 GB) for 30 days
Airtel Rwanda (formerly Airtel-Tigo Rwanda)
Airtel Rwanda, just Airtel, is the second-largest operator in Rwanda. Airtel bought Tigo Rwanda in 2017. For years, they were called Airtel-Tigo until the Tigo brand was dropped in 2020.
Airtel’s coverage is about as good as the one of MTN, but they are slightly cheaper than MTN. Airtel SIM cards are sold in Airtel Distributor Shops. Top-up vouchers are sold from 100 RWF to 5000 RWF. To top-up, dial *130*VoucherCode#. For example, if your voucher code 123456, you would dial *130*123456#. Dial *131# to check your Airtel balance.
Airtel has 3G and 4G bundles. Let’s start with the 3G bundles first.
Airtel 3G bundles
Airtel has 14 3G bundles, which are valid for 24 hours, 7 days, or 30 days. There bundles can be activated by dialing *255# and selecting option 2. Check your internet bundle usage by dialing *175*4#:
- 100 RWF: 50 MB for 24 hours
- 200 RWF: 120 MB for 24 hours
- 500 RWF: 500 MB for 24 hours
- 1000 RWF: 1.5 GB for 24 hours
- 1000 RWF: 1 GB for 7 days
- 2000 RWF: 3 GB for 7 days
- 2000 RWF: 1.5 GB for 30 days
- 3000 RWF: 3.5 GB for 30 days
- 5000 RWF: 10 GB for 7 days
- 10 000 RWF: 30 GB for 30 days
- 21 000 RWF: 65 GB for 30 days
- 30 000 RWF: 95 GB for 30 days
- 40 000 RWF: 125 GB for 30 days
I have to say, those are some generous data allowances.
Airtel 4G bundles
Just like with MTN, KT Rwanda provides its 4G/LTE network to Airtel, meaning that Airtel does not have their own 4G/LTE network. It is unlikely that they will build their own in the (near) future. If you have an old Airtel SIM card, then you can upgrade it to a 4G SIM card for 1000 RWF.
Airtel has 10 4G bundles, which are valid for 24 hours, 7 days, or 30 days. These bundles can be activated by dialing *255# and selecting option 2. Check your internet bundle usage by dialing *175*4#:
- 500 RWF: 100 MB for 24 hours
- 900 RWF: 200 MB for 24 hours
- 4000 RWF: 1 GB for 24 hours
- 6000 RWF: 1 GB for 7 days
- 10 000 RWF: 3.5 GB for 7 days
- 30 000 RWF: 5 GB for 30 days
- 40 000 RWF: 7 GB for 30 days
- 55 000 RWF: 10 GB for 30 days
- 80 000 RWF: 15 GB for 30 days
- 120 000 RWF: 30 GB for 30 days
Airtel Jama Bundles (Youth Packs)
If you are younger than 25, then you can take advantage of these 5 Airtel Jama Packs by dialing *154# and selecting option 2:
- 50 RWF: 60 MB for 24 hours
- 100 RWF: 200 MB for 24 hours
- 400 RWF: 500 MB for 7 days
- 500 RWF: 1 GB for 7 days
- 1000 RWF: 1.3 GB for 30 days
KT Rwanda is a 4G/LTE-only operator in the country. They also facilitate the 4G/LTE services for MTN and Airtel. You could say that KT Rwanda is indirectly the largest operator in Rwanda.
Besides MTN and Airtel, many other companies are using KT Rwanda’s 4G/LTE networks and reselling their mobile services. You find a list of KT Rwanda partners by going to this page. The reason why I do not include them in this article is because travelers cannot get those SIM cards – foreigners cannot even get a KT Rwanda.
The reason why I still included KT Rwanda in this article is for foreign nationals living in Rwanda.
KT Rwanda has many types of internet plans, such as the Smartphone Unlimited Broadband plans, Volume-based plans, Time-based plans, and Isanzure Packs. Let’s go through each of them.
KT Rwanda Smartphone Unlimited Broadband Plans
The Smartphone Unlimited Broadband plans come with unlimited data for a week or 30 days. The speeds are capped based on the plan you choose. The following 6 unlimited plans are available:
- 2500 RWF: Unlimited 5 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload for 7 days
- 4300 RWF: Unlimited 100 Mbps download/30 Mbps upload 7 days
- 4300 RWF: Unlimited 5 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload for 30 days
- 6500 RWF: Unlimited un-capped speeds 7 days
- 18 000 RWF: Unlimited 100 Mbps download/30 Mbps upload 30 days
- 25 000 RWF: Unlimited un-capped speeds 30 days
You can activate the Unlimited Broadband Plans, and any other KT Rwanda plans, by dialing #900* or on the LTE RWA App.
KT Rwanda Volume-based Plans
KT Rwanda’s Volume-based plans come with a set data allowance for 24 hours or 30 days. Speeds are not capped like with most Unlimited Broadband plans. The following 8 Volume-based plans are available. All these plans are valid for 30 days, except for the 800 RWF 1 GB pack that is valid for 24 hours:
- 800 RWF: 1 GB (for 24 hours)
- 1500 RWF: 1 GB
- 3250 RWF: 3 GB
- 9000 RWF: 5 GB
- 15 000 RWF: 10 GB
- 35 000 RWF: 30 GB
- 68 000 RWF: 50 GB
- 130 000 RWF: 100 GB
KT Rwanda Time-based Plans
The Time-based plans of KT Rwanda come with a capped high-speed data allowance per day for 30 days. If you go over that allowance, your speeds will be throttled. The following 4 Time-based plans are available:
- 10 500 RWF: 500 MB/day
- 21 000 RWF: 1 GB/day (afterward, 128 Kbps for the remainder of the day) – max. 30 GB high-speed data
- 57 000 RWF: 3 GB/day (afterward, 256 Kbps for the remainder of the day) – max. 90 GB high-speed data
- 75 000 RWF: 4 GB/day (afterward, 512 Kbps for the remainder of the day) – max. 120 GB high-speed data
KT Rwanda Isanzure Packs
Finally, you have the Isanzure Packs that come with a data allowance and unlimited data for Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Instagram for 7 days. The following 2 Isanzure packs are available:
- 4800 RWF: 4 GB (capped at 100 Mbps download/30 Mbps upload) and unlimited social apps
- 8800 RWF: 10 GB and unlimited social apps
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Rwanda
Getting a SIM card from MTN or Airtel would do you well when considering a Rwandan SIM card.
Local Prepaid SIM Card in Other African Countries
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