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Basics Edit

Burundi is a rather small landlocked country in East Africa, sometimes also considered part of Central Africa. On 27,830 km2 about 10.5 million people live. Burundi has a vibrant mobile market with operators coming and going.

International bandwidth increased almost 5-fold between 2014 and 2017, resulting in lower retail prices for consumers.

Right now 4 mobile phone providers operate in the country:

  • Lumitel (by Vietnamese Viettel) 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE
  • Econet Leo (by Zimbabwian Econet Wireless) 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE
  • Smart Mobile (by LaCell Burundi) 2G, 3G
  • [Onamob (by Onatel Burundi) 2G]

The Econet Wireless Group, belonging to the Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa announced in 2015 the completion of the merger of its Burundian subsidiary with that of VimpelCom U-Com Leo forming the new brand of Econet Leo. Lumitel financed by Viettel jump started in 2015/6 after Africell-TEMPO closed down for bancrupcy. The long-established plans to privatize the national telco Onatel owner of Onamob have been delayed several times.

2G/GSM is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz with Lumitel, Econet Leo and Smart Mobile. Lumitel and Econet started 4G/LTE on an unknown frequency, most likely on 1800 MHz (Band 3).

Regulations Edit

The Burundi government has ordered the local mobile networks back in 2011 to start collecting proof of ID from prepaid subscribers and registering their details. All new subscribers are required to provide ID when buying a SIM card. or phone companies face fines of up to US$ 3,000 for each case where they fail to block an unregistered user.

Burundi has also banned people from owning two SIM cards from the same mobile provider before. This move came amid continuing civil unrest in the country, but seems to be suspended now.

Lumitel (by Viettel) Edit

Lumitel

Lumitel by Viettel Burundi is the mobile operator owned by Vietnam’s military-backed Viettel Group. It started in 2016 and gained 1 million customers in only three months after launch. They heavily invested into a fibre backbone network and currently run the largest 3G network in the country available in all districts (collines).

Lumitel launched the first 4G/LTE network simultaneously in six provinces of the country in 2016 covering the core central parts of Bujumbura, Gitega, Ngozi, Rumonge Makamba and Muyinga. That's how they took over more than half of the mobile market in the country in just two years.

Availability Edit

Stater price of their discounted Yellow SIM is 500 Fbu in their shops and outlets (store locator). This is an ongoing promotion for up to 2 SIM cards per user. Regular price is 5,000 Fbu. Note that you need to get a 4G SIM for 4G/LTE, not one of these 3G SIMs that are around.

Top-ups can be bought all over the country.

Data feature packages Edit

These data packages are offered for 3G and 4G/LTE:

Data Time Price
40 MB 1 day 135 Fbu
70 MB 300 Fbu
140 MB 500 Fbu
400 MB 700 Fbu
1.5 GB 1000 Fbu
200 MB 7 days 770 Fbu
300 MB 1000 Fbu
1.5 GB 15 days 1000 Fbu
150 MB 30 days 1000 Fbu
300 MB 1500 Fbu
675 MB 3000 Fbu
1 GB 5000 Fbu
1.3 GB 5000 Fbu
2.7 GB 9000 Fbu
4.5 GB 14000 Fbu
7 GB 20000 Fbu
13 GB 38000 Fbu
23 GB 50000 Fbu
unlimited 200,000 Fbu

For activation dial *150#.

For night use from midnight to 6am they offer these packages:

  • 200 MB: 99 Fbu
  • 1 GB: 299 Fbu
  • 1.5 GB: 499 Fbu
  • 5 GB: 999 Fbu
  • 12 GB: 1999 Fbu
  • 20 GB: 2999 Fbu
  • 30 GB: 3999 Fbu

For unlimited WhatsApp and Facebook they offer:

  • for 1 day: 200 Fbu
  • for 7 days: 1000 Fbu
  • for 15 days: 2000 Fbu
  • for 30 days: 3500 Fbu

More info Edit

Econet Leo Edit

Econet Leo

Econet Leo was born out of the merger between Econet and U-Cell Leo and used to be the leading player, before it was taken over by Lumitel. Econet runs a 2G and 3G network and launched a 4G/LTE network in the capital of Bujumbura. Although they currently only offer 4G coverage in the capital, there are plans to extend coverage to other provinces in due course.

Availability Edit

Their SIM card is often promoted at 500 Fbu in their shops. Regular price is around 5000 Fbu. For 4G, be sure to get a 4G/LTE-enabled SIM.

Top-ups can be found all over the country.

Data feature packages Edit

Default rate is 0.08 Fbu per KB. These data packages are offered for 3G and 4G/LTE:

Data Time Price
40 MB 24 hours 199 Fbu
70 MB 330 Fbu
140 MB 550 Fbu
400 MB 1000 Fbu
50 MB 2 days 500 Fbu
1 GB 2500 Fbu
200 MB 7 days 1100 Fbu
500 MB 15 days 3000 Fbu
1 GB 5500 Fbu
100 MB 30 days 1000 Fbu
250 MB 2000 Fbu
1 GB 8800 Fbu
1.8 GB 11000 Fbu
5 GB 22000 Fbu
9 GB 35200 Fbu
19 GB 55000 Fbu
45 GB 132000 Fbu

For activation dial *405#, for checking data consumption *405*0#.

These bundles are for 4G/LTE only available in the capital:

  • 1.5 GB for 24 hours: 1000 Fbu
  • 500 MB for 7 days: 1500 Fbu
  • 2 GB for 30 days: 10000 Fbu
  • 25 GB for 30 days: 45000 Fbu

For night use from midnight to 5am they offer these packages:

  • 500 MB: 250 Fbu
  • 1.5 GB: 499 Fbu
  • 3.5 GB: 750 Fbu

For unlimited WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter they offer:

  • for 1 day: 190 Fbu per app or 490 Fbu for all three apps
  • for 7 days: 950 Fbu for all three apps

More info Edit

Smart Mobile Edit

Smart-0

Smart Mobile started by LaCell Burundi back in 2010 as 6th provider at that time. It survived and has so far only 2G/3G coverage, no 4G/LTE, gaining a smaller share of the market. Therefore it can't be recommended for travellers throughout the country, but may still be an option for stationary use, when you have coverage, because of lower prices.

Availability Edit

Their starter is for 1000 Fbu in their stores and includes 100 MB, 10 SMS and 4 local minutes.

Data feature packages Edit

These data packages are offered for 3G:

Data Time Price
40 MB 24 hours 199 Fbu
100 MB 399 Fbu
500 MB 1000 Fbu
1 GB 2 days 1999 Fbu
200 MB 7 days 1000 Fbu
500 MB 2000 Fbu
200 MB 30 days 1000 Fbu
500 MB 2500 Fbu
1 GB 5500 Fbu
2 GB 9000 Fbu
3.5 GB 14000 Fbu
5 GB 20000 Fbu
10 GB 38000 Fbu
25 GB 90000 Fbu

For night use from midnight to 6am they offer these packages:

  • 200 MB: 99 Fbu
  • 1.5 GB: 499 Fbu
  • 5 GB: 999 Fbu

For unlimited WhatsApp and Facebook they offer:

  • for 1 day: 199 Fbu
  • for 7 days: 999 Fbu
  • for 30 days: 3499 Fbu

More info Edit

Onamob (by Onatel Burundi) Edit

Onatel

The government of Burundi has revealed plans to modernize the network of the historically first and now 4th-ranked provider Onamob, the mobile arm of state-owned incumbent operator Onatel in order to provide a better population coverage and give it better products and services with which to compete with the dominant private mobile operators.

As it runs on 2G/GSM technology only so far, it's not suitable for data use and can't be recommended in the state it's in right now.