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3 Best Prepaid SIM Cards in Sierra Leone: Buying Guide

SIM cards are relatively cheap in Western Africa, which also applies to Sierra Leone. They are so affordable that there are almost no reasons for roaming internationally in Sierra Leone (because roaming can be expensive).

But what is relatively cheap, and where can you get yourself a SIM card in Sierra Leone?

You can buy a Sierra Leonean SIM card for 20 000 SLL (1.95 USD) from Africell and Orange. Qcell even hands out SIM cards for free (or for 1000 SLL (0.10 USD) and 3000 SLL (0.30 USD) if you want better starter perks). 1 GB of data is available for as little as 15 000 SLL (1.45 USD).

Cannot see the video above? Watch it here or on YouTube.

To be fair, those are some low prices for African standards. However, the locals will certainly disagree with me.

Anyway, there is a lot more to learn about getting yourself a SIM card in Sierra Leone.

In this guide, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Sierra Leone. Let's do this.

Buying a SIM Card in Sierra Leone Guide (logos of Orange, Africell & Qcell)

Original publication: 15th of May 2020. Last updated: 13th of July 2021.

Table of Contents

Can You Buy a SIM Card in Sierra Leone?

Everyone can buy a Sierra Leonean SIM card from the local operators (Africell, Orange & Qcell) without any restrictions, including tourists.

You do need to register your SIM card upon purchase, have a SIM lock-free phone (unlocked), and have a phone that supports the frequencies used in Sierra Leone.

Where Can You Buy a SIM Card in Sierra Leone?

Sierra Leonean SIM cards are available in the official stores of Africell, Orange, and Qcell.

Here is a list of what to expect to pay for a SIM card in Sierra Leone:

  • Africell Sierra Leone: 20 000 SLL
  • Orange Sierra Leone: 20 000 SLL
  • Qcell Sierra Leone: Free, 1000 SLL, OR 3000 SLL (three options)

Can You Use Your Phone in Sierra Leone?

Sierra Leone mostly uses GSM technology for mobile communication services. All operators except for Sierratel use GSM. You will need a GSM-supported phone to use your device in Sierra Leone.

There is a 99% chance that your phone uses GSM (the more popular mobile communications standard). Unlike most countries in Africa, you have the possibility to use a CDMA phone in Siera Leone. However, your options are limited to Sierratel only.

Sierra Leone uses standard European frequencies for its networks, which are used throughout Africa, Asia (including the Middle East), Europe, and Oceania (ITU Regions 1 & 3). Phones sold in ITU Regions 1 and 3 will have no connectivity issues when in Sierra Leone.

ITU Regions Map
By Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa) – Own work, using this file by Denelson83, CC BY-SA 2.5

In the Americas (North-, Central- & South America + the Caribbean – ITU Region 2), however, they use American frequencies. Those are different from European frequencies. Phones sold in ITU Region 2 may experience connectivity issues when in Sierra Leone.

If you have a low/medium-end device without Tri-Band or Quad-Band support, there is a possibility that you cannot use your phone at all in Sierra Leone or only older networks.

Suppose you have a medium/high-end device with Tri-Band or Quad-Band support. In that case, the likelihood of using your phone in Sierra Leone without any or some limitations is large.

Mobile Operators, Networks & Frequencies in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has three GSM mobile network operators:

Sierratel is a government-owned operator that uses CDMA, which is incompatible with GSM (which almost all phones use nowadays), which is why they will not be discussed in this guide.

The following frequencies are used by the Sierra Leonean operators:

  • 2G: 900 MHz
  • 3G: 2100 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 1800 MHz (Band 3)

Note: Qcell does not use 4G/LTE (yet).

You can learn more about frequencies in the video below.

Cannot see the video above? Watch it here or on YouTube.

To check whether your phone will work in Sierra Leone, check out this page by Will My Phone Work.

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.

Best SIM Card in Sierra Leone

If you want to buy a SIM card in Sierra Leone, I recommend going with either Orange or Africell. Orange has better coverage and speeds than Africell, but Africell is the largest operator in the country, mainly because they are cheaper than Orange.

SIM Card Registration in Sierra Leone

SIM card registration with your passport information is mandatory in Sierra Leone. This will be done at the point of purchase.

Sierra Leone Internet Prices & Insights

Sierra Leone Flag

Based on the information presented so far, you know what SIM cards can be cheap in Sierra Leone (especially if you go with Qcell – their SIM cards can be obtained for free).

But what about data? How expensive is data in Sierra Leone?

The average price for 1 GB of data in Sierra Leone is 3.96 USD, which is far below the Sub-Saharan average of 5.91 USD (6.91 USD including Saint Helena). The world average is 5.03 USD.

However, network reception may not be up to your standards. Luckily, the populated areas have decent coverage and internet speeds. Fortunately, things are reasonably priced in this country.

Currency in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone uses the Sierra Leonean Leone with the symbol SLL (which will be used throughout this article). Prices in Sierra Leone are listed in Le. For example, 25 SLL = Le 25. For reference, below are some exchange rates between SLL and USD (US Dollars – Rounded):

  • 100 SLL = 0.01 USD
  • 1000 SLL = 0.10 USD
  • 10 000 SLL = 1 USD
  • 100 000 SLL = 9.80 USD
  • 1 000 000 SLL = 98.25 USD

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Sierra Leone Prepaid SIM Cards

Below, I will guide you through Africell Sierra Leone, Orange Sierra Leone, Qcell Sierra Leone, and go through:

  • Background information
  • Mobile coverage
  • 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 Sierra Leone has to offer to us.

Africell Sierra Leone

Africell Logo

Africell Sierra Leone, just Africell, is the largest operator in Sierra Leone. 4G/LTE speeds all the way up to 90 Mbps on Africell’s 4G/LTE network have been reported.

Africell uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: 900 MHz
  • 3G: 2100 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 1800 MHz (band 3)

Coverage – Africell Sierra Leone

Africell has decent coverage in the cities.

However, Orange Sierra Leone has better coverage than Africell.

Moreover, do note that you may only have 2G coverage in the less populated places in Sierra Leone.

SIM Card Price – Africell Sierra Leone

Africell SIM cards are available for 20 000 SLL in Africell stores.

Top-Up & Recharge – Africell Sierra Leone

Africell top-up vouchers are sold in Africell stores and other retailers such as stores, gas stations, and corner shops.

Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers – Africell Sierra Leone

Africell has only one type of data-featured bundle – the Internet Bundle.

The following Internet Bundles are available, which can be activated by dialing *113#:

PriceDataValidity
400 SLL10 MB1 day 
1350 SLL35 MB1 day 
1990 SLL55 MB7 days 
4250 SLL120 MB7 days 
8250 SLL225 MB7 days 
23 000 SLL750 MB7 days 
55 000 SLL2 GB30 days 
200 000 SLL4.5 GB30 days 
300 000 SLL8.5 GB60 days 
400 000 SLL18 GB60 days 

The Internet Bundles can also be activated by calling 113 or texting the desired bundleto 113.

APN/Internet Settings – Africell Sierra Leone

  • Name: Africell Sierra Leone
  • APN: africellnet

Note: Do not add or change anything else not mentioned above.

Orange Sierra Leone

Orange Logo

Orange Sierra Leone, just Orange, is the second-largest operator in Sierra Leone.

Orange uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: 900 MHz
  • 3G: 2100 MHz
  • 4G/LTE 1800 MHz (Band 3)

Coverage – Orange Sierra Leone

Orange has decent coverage in the cities.

Do note that you may only have 2G coverage in the less populated places in Sierra Leone.

SIM Card Price – Orange Sierra Leone

Orange SIM cards can be bought for 20 000 SLL in Orange stores. You will get 10 on-net minutes upon registering your SIM card.

Top-Up & Recharge – Orange Sierra Leone

Orange top-up cards are sold in many stores in Sierra Leone, including Orange stores, grocery stores, and gas stations.

To recharge, dial *136*VoucherCode#.

For example, if your voucher code is 123456, you would dial *136*123456#.

Dial *137# to check your Orange balance.

Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers – Orange Sierra Leone

Orange has two types of data-featured plans: Yo (combo) & More Data (data-only)

Yo – Orange Sierra Leone

The Yo plans are combo plans with data and on-net minutes.

The following Yo plans are available, which you can activate by dialing *888#:

PricePlanDataOn-Net MinutesOn-Net SMS
990 SLLYo 9905 MB3 minutes10 SMS
1990 SLLYo 199010 MB10 minutes30 SMS
3990 SLLYo 399030 MB20 minutes50 SMS
More Data – Orange Sierra Leone

The More Data bundles are data-only plans.

The following More Data bundles are available, which can be activated by dialing *888#:

PriceDataValidity
450 SLL10 MB1 day 
1400 SLL35 MB1 day 
4500 SLL120 MB1 day 
8400 SLL225 MB7 days 
9000 SLL300 MB1 day 
15 000 SLL450 MB7 days 
29 000 SLL1.2 GB7 days 
60 000 SLL2 GB30 days 
125 000 SLL4.5 GB30 days 
200 000 SLL8 GB30 days 
390 000 SLL17 GB30 days 

Dial *137*8* to check your data balance.

APN/Internet Settings – Orange Sierra Leone

  • Name: Orange Sierra Leone
  • APN: internet.sl.airtel.com

Note: Do not add or change anything else not mentioned above.

Qcell Gambia

QCell Logo

Qcell Gambia, just Qcell, is the smallest operator in Sierra Leone. They started operating in 2018.

Qcell uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: 900 MHz
  • 3G: 2100 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: No 4G/LTE

Coverage – Qcell Sierra Leone

Qcell has OK coverage in Sierra Leone.

Their coverage is worse than Africell's and Orange's. However, Qcell is not too far behind in the populated areas.

SIM Card Price – Qcell Sierra Leone

You can get a Qcell SIM card, called Q-SIM, for free with 5 MB and 5 SMS in Qcell stores. It is also possible to get two other SIM cards (Q-SIM Economy and Q-SIM Premium) for 1000 SLL and 3000 SLL, respectively, with more starter benefits than the free SIM card.

Below is an overview of all the Q-SIM options:

  • Q-SIM: Free – 5 MB & 5 minutes
  • Q-SIM Economy: 1000 SLL – 1000 SLL credit, 60 MB & 60 SMS
  • Q-SIM Premium: 3000 SLL, 200 MB, 3 on-net minutes, 2 off-net minutes & 200 SMS

Top-Up & Recharge – Qcell Sierra Leone

Qcell recharge cards are widely available throughout Sierra Leone, including in Qcell stores and any other store featuring the Qcell logo on their storefront.

To check your balance, dial *101#.

Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers – Qcell Sierra Leone

Qcell has three types of data-featured bundles, which are:

Click on the links above to jump to the plan you are interested in.

Tok Boku – Qcell Sierra Leone

The Tok Boku bundles are combo bundles with data, minutes, and SMS.

The following Tok Boku Bundles are available, which can be activated by dialing *303#:

PriceDataOn-Net MinutesOff-Net MinutesSMSValidity
1500 SLL40 MB2 minutesN/A50 SMS1 day
2000 SLL50 MB3 minutesN/A80 SMS1 day
2500 SLL80 MB3 minutesN/A100 SMS1 day
5000 SLL200 MB8 minutesN/A200 SMS7 days
10 000 SLL500 MB15 minutes1 minute500 SMS7 days
15 000 SLL1 GB21 minutes4 minutesUnlimited14 days 
20 000 SLL1.5 GB25 minutes8 minutesUnlimited30 days 
Data Bunya (Data Bundles) – Qcell Sierra Leone

The Data Bunya bundles are data bundles.

The following Data Bunya bundles can be activated by dialing *303#.

PriceDataBunya Days DataValidity
200 SLL10 MB20 MB1 day
500 SLL25 MB50 MB1 day
1250 SLL60 MB120 MB7 days
2000 SLL100 MB200 MB14 days
3500 SLL200 MB400 MB14 days
6000 SLL500 MB1 GB30 days 
9000 SLL1 GB2 GB30 days 
25 000 SLL3 GB6 GB30 days 
40 000 SLL5 GB10 GB60 days 
75 000 SLL10 GB20 GB60 days 
Qnite – Qcell Sierra Leone

Qnite is a data bundle featuring unlimited data at night (0:00 – 7:00 / 12 AM – 7 AM).

Qnite comes in one version, which you can activate by dialing *303#:

PriceDataTimeframeValidity
100 SLLUnlimited0:00 – 7:001 night 

APN/Internet Settings – Orange Sierra Leone

  • Name: Qcell
  • APN: qcellnet

Note: Do not add or change anything else not mentioned above.

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Sierra Leone

Getting a Sierra Leonean SIM card is the best way to stay connected in the country.

However, for some, getting local SIM cards is not an option. For example, if you have a SIM-locked device.

Luckily, there are other ways to get online when in Sierra Leone.

However, these methods may be more expensive than getting a SIM card from the local operators.

International Roaming

International roaming is the most convenient way to stay connected when traveling in other countries because you do not have to buy a new SIM card, have to deal with SIM card registration regulations, nor have multiple phone numbers to deal with.

However, international roaming has proven to be expensive in many cases, especially compared to buying local SIM cards. That is why many travelers are not fond of international roaming.

International roaming has its pros and cons. However, it is important to know how it works. This in-depth guide explains it all.

Find out whether your mobile operator has attractive roaming rates for Sierra Leone here.

Using an International SIM Card or Travel SIM Card

International SIM cards are SIM cards made for the traveler in mind. Using them is often cheaper than international roaming. However, they are almost always more expensive than using a local SIM card.

There are many other advantages and disadvantages of getting international SIM cards, which you can learn about here.

Using a Mobile Hotspot (Pocket WIFI)

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, as they allow you to connect multiple devices to one hotspot without the need of each traveler having to buy a SIM card.

You can either buy a mobile hotspot or rent one.

Using Free WIFI Networks

Using free WIFI connections is the cheapest way to stay connected because they are free. The major downside of trying to use WIFI hotspots is that you will have to locate them, and they are not available on every corner in Sierra Leone.

Make sure to protect your internet traffic with a VPN so that hackers cannot steal your personal data.

The Preferred Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Sierra Leone

Getting a SIM card from either Orange or Africell would do you well when considering a Sierra Leonean SIM card.

Local Prepaid SIM Card in Other African Countries

Visiting other countries in Africa? Check out my Africa SIM card buying guide, covering other African countries, such as

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

Next Steps to Enhance Your Travel Experiences

Looking for the next steps to enhance your phone travel experiences? Here is what to do:

Check Out My Resource Page

Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my travel resources page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money with international SIM cards, 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!

Start Your Own Online Business – Make Money While Traveling

Do you want to learn how I started an online business that allows me to generate income while traveling? In my starting an online business guide, I tell you which tools, services, and products I have for this site and my YouTube channel. If I can start a business about something I am passionate about (phone travel), then you can do it too!

Learn About Your Phone Travel Options

You can buy local prepaid SIM cards, international SIM cards, mobile hotspots, or roam internationally. Each of these options has its pros and cons. Learn more about them, and find the best option for you.

Phone Travel Tips, Tricks & Hacks

I have written many articles with tips and hacks to save money on mobile costs while abroad. You surely want to check them out!

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