If you are traveling soon to Africa, you may be wondering how you would stay in touch with your friends and loved ones. When one says Africa, one usually pictures out Safaris, a sparse population, and tribesmen. People usually think they will be off the grid. Because of this, they think mobile services will be rare and expensive. This is not true at all.
Over the past years, mobile industries have found growth in Africa. In fact, mobile communications has become cheaper and easier. International communications is just as easy as any other country. There is no doubt that majority of the African population lives in poverty. Mobile phone networks have found ways to establish cheaper and faster connections.
When you travel to Africa, you have three major options to communicate internationally in Africa: Roaming with your own phone, renting a phone, or buying a local card.
Roaming with your own phone
If you want to be reached through your own number and you prefer to be using your own phone, you should get an international calling plan. If you are using a major mobile service provider, it is most likely that they have a roaming plan available.
If you get an international calling plan, a call from your phone in Africa to the USA may cost you $1.50 to $3 a minute. You have to keep in mind that you will not only be paying for the calls that you make but also the calls you will be receiving while you are in Africa. Before purchasing a roaming plan, you have to decide beforehand how many minutes of call time you want.
Some roaming plans offer also text messaging and mobile browsing. The features and the pricing packages will be different from one provider to the next. Make sure that your provider covers Africa in their roaming services and that the smartphone or device you are using will be able to work in Africa before you leave.
The thing about international plans is that they can get expensive. If you find it too costly or that your provider does not cover Africa, you can still bring your own phone. You just have to make sure that your phone will be on Airplane mode all the time. Otherwise, once your phone manages to find data network, it will start using data and roaming data charges can get scary. If your phone is on airplane mode, you can still use wireless networks to go online with it. If you have an iPhone, you can still get text messages through iMessages.
Rent a phone
If you know that you will most likely need a lot of data in your trip to Africa, renting a phone may be a cheaper option for you. You can rent a smartphone from your area before you leave or rent a local phone when you arrive in Africa.
There are some companies that allow you to rent smartphones for a couple of days. You can find a phone with an international plan and rent it for a limited number of days. The roaming charges will be close to getting an international plan yourself but you can be assured that the phone and the plan totally works in Africa.
You can also rent a local phone in Africa when you arrive. This is a cheaper option than renting a phone in the US before you leave. The smartphone models in Africa are not as old as you think. You can get the latest tecno phone that can still allow you to access your social media, work e-mail, and other apps that you are using.
If you are going to a remote part of Africa, it might be better for you to get a satellite phone instead of a smartphone. This ensures that you have a better chance of getting a signal no matter where you may be. Satellite phones can be used for voice calls and text messaging. If you get a BGAN Terminal, the satellite phone will be able to access the Internet too.
Buy a local SIM card
If you know that you will also have to make a lot of local calls while you are in Africa, it is a cheaper option for you to get a local SIM card while you are staying there. A local pay-as-you-go or prepaid SIM card is probably the most cost-effective option for you to make local and international calls while in Africa. With this option, you only pay for the services that you use for a limited time. If you need additional credit, you just buy more as you need it.
You will be able to get these SIM cards in the airport. You may be asked to register our SIM card because a lot of people are now using their mobile phones for mobile banking.
When you choose this option, make sure that you have the right device. Most US phones do not use SIM cards and even if they do, some of them might be locked on the USA. If you use a locked phone, it will not be able to function outside the USA. You have to own an unlocked phone that uses a SIM card for this option to work for you.
Africa is not as left behind as you think when it comes to technology. In fact, Africa has become one of the world’s fastest-growing mobile markets in the world. A lot of companies have been investing in the continent. Chinese mobile brand Tecno is one of them and Tecno has been recognized as the best mobile brand in Africa. You can find a lot of people equipped with the latest Tecno phone. One reason why Africa has a significant growth in mobile phones because more people have mobile phones than fixed-line phones.
So, if you find yourself in Africa, you do not have to worry. Communication and going online (yeebia) will be no problem. With these three options, you will have no problem staying in touch.