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Travelling to Burkina Faso? A guide to finding the best prepaid SIM card
A local SIM could reduce your roaming bills.
Using your home phone network while exploring Burkina Faso can be expensive, so consider switching to a local SIM card to take advantage of cheaper local tariffs. Burkina Faso has some good prepaid SIM card offers, deals that could reduce your bills. You can buy 1GB of data for XOF5,000 (CAD$11.33), which is pretty inexpensive for Africa. So, whether you’re planning a short break or an African tour, check out the best SIM card options available on finder CA.Prices last updated 2017/08/29
There are three main operators in Burkina Faso: Telmob, Orange and Telecel. All three can be trusted and have been tested by locals, travellers and leading testing sites. Each competes with the others to offer the best deals. According to OpenSignal’s coverage map, Burkina Faso’s signal is good around the main towns and cities, but other areas of the country can suffer from poor coverage.
About Burkina Faso’s operators
Roaming rates are good and all operators sell prepaid credit, which allows users to take advantage of cheap offers and deals. All operators provide 2G and 3G, and two offer 4G/LTE services. The locals call their SIM cards “SIM SIMs”, and they can be purchased and registered by showing your passport. Credit can be purchased from official stores, supermarkets and online by using your credit card. We advise you to purchase SIM cards from official stores and approved resellers, avoiding street sellers. Below, we have listed the three main providers in Burkina Faso and the best deals they offer.
Telmob (by Ontel)
Telmob is the largest operator and offers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and credit can also be picked up from the same retailers. Your passport doesn’t have to be shown but some retailers are now asking to see it, so take it along just to be sure. SIM cards can be bought for XOF500, and credit bonuses are available, depending on the deals available at the time of purchase. Credit can be purchased in the form of credit vouchers that can be found at most stores or bought by using your credit card online. Top-ups can be added in varying amounts between XOF200 and XOF50,000. Dial *100# to check your balance.
The Connects Social media packs, called “Forfaits Connect” in French, can be purchased to allow 24-hour access to two popular social networking sites: Facebook and WhatsApp. The plans can be purchased for XOF300 and can be activated by dialling *146*2# for Facebook or *146*3# for WhatsApp.
The Libertis packages are good combination plans that can be added to the basic SIM card. Dial the code in the right-hand column to choose the package you prefer:
|60 minutes of call time||500MB||XOF4,200||*146*11#|
|300 minutes of call time||1GB||XOF21,000||*146*55#|
|600 minutes of call time||1GB||XOF42,000||*146*1010#|
The following data packs can also be added:
Dial *146# to check on your data allowance.
Telmob’s APN: Nettelmob, and website: www.onatel.bf
Orange Burkina Faso
Orange is the second-largest provider in Burkina Faso. It offers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and credit can also be picked up from the same retailers. Your passport might be requested before the SIM card is activated.
The SIM Sons’yam prepaid card can be picked up for XOF250 and comes with varying amounts of credit, so check at the time of purchase for the latest deals. Credit can be purchased in the form of credit vouchers that can be picked up from most stores or by using your credit card online. Top-ups can be added in the following denominations: XOF200, XOF500, XOF1,000, XOF2,000, XOF5,000 and XOF10,000, and each is valid for 90 days. Dial *130*<voucher code># to add credit. Dial *160# to check your balance.
The default data rate is charged at XOF50 per MB. The following data packs can also be added:
Dial *103*<price># to activate the plan of your choice.
The following data packs can also be added for use between midnight and 5am. Dial *506*<price>#to add one of the following:
- 500MB: XOF500
- 1GB: XOF1,000
Orange’s APN: internet, and website: www.orange.bf
Telecel Faso is the smallest provider and only offers 2G and 3G services. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and credit can also be picked up from the same retailers. Your passport must be shown to the retailer before the SIM card is activated. SIM cards can be picked up for XOF200, which comes with the same amount of credit. Top-ups can be purchased in the form of credit vouchers that can be purchased from most stores or by using your credit card online. Top-ups can be added in amounts between XOF500 and XOF2,000. Dial *110# to check your balance.
- 1 day: XOF300 – Text 160 to activate
- 1 week: XOF2,000 – Text 161 to activate
- 1 month: XOF7,000 – Text 162 to activate
Telecel Faso’s APN: wap.telecelfaso.bf, and website: telecelfaso.bf
- French is the main language in Burkina Faso, with English as a secondary language. Download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel if you need language assistance.
- Locals call a SIM card a “SIM SIM”.
- Ask the retailers to set up the SIM card for you, because they will know how to do it. If not, follow the instructions above or go to the official website for advice.
- Make sure you purchase your SIM card from the official stores or approved resellers. Top-up vouchers are trusted from chain supermarkets and approved resellers. Try to avoid street sellers.
Pros and cons of Burkina Faso’s top telco providers
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- Can be expensive. Compare roaming rates with your current provider to make sure it’s cheaper
- No devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- Street sellers can be unpredictable; avoid at all costs
Another question about finding the best SIM
Q: Is the signal good in Burkina Faso’s countryside?
A: All networks will suffer away from the main cities and highway areas. A lack of coverage is not limited to Burkina Faso providers; it will also happen on your usual network. So if the local deal works out cheaper than your current provider, we highly recommend that you switch over during your trip.
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