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Botswana has some good prepaid SIM card offers and deals that could reduce your bills. You can buy 1GB of data for BWP399 (US$38), which sounds expensive but could work out cheaper than your current roaming rates abroad. So, whether you’re planning a quick holiday or a South African tour, check out the best SIM card options available on finder.com.
There are three main cell phone operators in Botswana: Mascom Wireless, Orange and be Mobile. All three can be trusted, and have been tested by locals, travelers and leading testing sites. According to OpenSignal’s coverage map, Botswana has a strong cell phone coverage around the Gabarone area, but it can become weaker the further out you head. Large areas of the country are still not covered by any network at all, especially in the Kalahari and Okavango Delta, but signals in the main towns and cities and along the highways are above average.
Botswana’s operators sell prepaid credit, which allow users to take advantage of local offers and deals. Roaming rates can be a little high compared to what is normally expected of cell phone operators, so make sure you compare deals against your own provider before committing. All networks offer 2G, 3G and 4G services. Locals call their SIM cards SIM SIMs and there are no rules and regulations when purchasing them. Tourists can buy SIM cards from almost anywhere in Botswana, at supermarkets, street sellers, stalls, but we advise purchasing them from official stores and approved resellers as there have been reports of unscrupulous vendors selling fake SIMs.. According to local law, all SIM cards must be registered using your passport, with official stores the best place to do this.
Mascom Wireless is a privately-owned company run by South African MTN, it’s the largest operator in Botswana with a 52% market share. It has the best coverage on offer and they provide good deals. Their 3G services cover more than 70% of the country’s area, and they offer 4G/LTE in Gaborone. Mascom’s prepaid Flexi Plan SIM card can be purchased at supermarkets, stores, and at street stalls. It’s highly recommended to purchase and register the SIM card at official stores.
The standard default rate is BWP1.05 per MB. The following data bundles are also on offer:
My Mix bundles:
Night bundle: unlimited data from midnight to 5am: BWP10 per night
Dial *123# to activate and to check balance.
Orange is run by French Télécom, and is the second largest operator with a 27% market share. Coverage areas can be smaller and the speeds slower, but there are always good deals to be found with this network provider.
The Orange prepaid SIM card can be purchased for BWP9.90, which includes BWP5.00 data and BWP5.00 worth of airtime, plus 10 SMS. Plans are sold almost anywhere in Botswana, but like the other providers it’s highly advisable to purchase the SIM cards from official stores, rather than street sellers.
Top-up scratch cards can be purchased from most supermarkets, sellers and stalls relatively safely. Scratch cards are sold in the following denominations: BWP10, 20, 50 (includes 10% bonus) and 100 (includes 20% bonus). The bonuses are valid for 14 days, but can be used to purchase other plans and packages. Dial *155*<card PIN># <call> to add credit.
The standard data price is BWP0.95 per MB. The following data plans can be added:
|10MB||Valid for 1 day||BWP2|
|15MB||Valid for 15 days||BWP9.50|
|30MB||Valid for 15 days||BWP18|
|75MB||Valid for 15 days||BWP45|
|150MB||Valid for 15 days||BWP85|
|300MB||Valid for 15 days||BWP170|
|550MB||Valid for 30 days||BWP299|
|2GB||Valid for 60 days||BWP399|
|5GB||Valid for 60 days||BWP799|
|10GB||Valid for 60 days||BWP1399|
Dial *148# to activate.
be Mobile is state-owned by the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC). It’s the smallest operator in the country with a 16% market share, and has the slowest and most unreliable service out of the three networks. It’s highly advisable to choose from one of the other operators to get a better deal. 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE is available, with the latter only available in Gaborone.
be Mobile’s prepaid SIM+ SIM card can be purchased for BWP10, which includes BWP10 worth of airtime, 10MB data per month and 10 SMS per month, valid for six months.
The standard default rate is BWP0.99 per MB. The following data-only packs are available:
|BWP40||500MB||Valid for 7 days|
|BWP65||1GB||Valid for 7 days|
|BWP99||2GB||Valid for 7 days|
Dial *180# to activate. Any bonuses received will be valid for one month.
While it’s well known for hotels, flights and holiday bookings, TripAdvisor has many user comments that can help guide you through SIM cards that have been tried and tested in Botswana.
Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:
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