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Liberia

BasicsEdit

Liberia, established as a state in 1847 by freed African slaves from the US, is situated on the Atlantic coast of West Africa. Being a relatively small country with approximately 4.6 million inhabitants, it's attempting to right itself after decades of civil conlict with two major civil wars (1989-1996, 1999-2003). These years of conflict have seen nearly 1/3 of the population displaced, as well as having taken the lives of approximately 250,000 people. One outcome of these years of civil conflict was the complete destruction of the fixed-line telephone infrastructure. The copper network was wholly destroyed or looted.

Today Liberia has become a prime example of an almost entirely wireless telecommunications market. Still mobile penetration of 75% lags the regional average of 82%.

Providers Edit

Today 2 mobile network operators compete for customers:

  • LoneStar Cell MTN (including Novafone GSM)
  • Orange Liberia (formerly Cellcom)

Liberia’s Libercell, that was also known as Atlantic Wireless, was shut down by the Liberian authorities in Monrovia in 2012 for not paying its taxes and duties. Novafone GSM (formerly Comium), was acquired by LoneStar MTN in 2016 after falling in financial difficulties.

2G/GSM is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G/UMTS on 2100 MHz, and 4G/LTE has started on 1800 MHz (B3) with Orange only in Monrovia and a few other towns.

Registration Edit

Officially, all SIM cards need to be registered on the name of the owner. In fact, often already registered SIM are resold on the streets. By mandate of the Liberian Telecommunications Authority, all GSM subscribers are requested to register their SIM to avoid being disconnected. As long as your SIM is not registered you will be able to receive calls but not make calls. To register your SIM card bring along with an official ID card and visit provider store or point of service. Registration is free.  

Currency, taxes and costs Edit

The local currency is the Liberian Dollar (L$, LRD). Because of inflation prices here are quoted in US$ instead. 15% taxes need to be added for the final price.  

The high cost and limited bandwidth of connections means that internet access is expensive and data speeds remain low. Although additional bandwidth is available from international submarine cables, considerable investment is still needed in domestic fixed-line infrastructure before users can make full use of the cable. In the mobile sector, competition has resulted in relatively low call prices, despite the lack of basic infrastructure in the country.

Availability Edit

You can pick up an Orange or Lonestar SIM card from booths on the street or their shops for around US$ 1. This price has come down from over US$ 70 for a SIM card about a decade ago. Officially, you need to register. So always check, if you are able to place calls.

Internet cafes are popping up more and more, but service (always slow) is very limited in rural areas. WiFi hotspots are increasing especially in Monrovia. Internet access costs some US$ per hour; WiFi in hotel lobbies and bars is usually free with a purchase.

LoneStar Cell MTNEdit

Lonestar

LoneStar Cell MTN is 60% owned by MTN South Africa. It used to be the market leader with about 1/2 of the nations customers, but is now heavily contested by Orange. 2016 they have acquired 3rd placed Novafone and added their clients.

AvailabilityEdit

Their SIM card can be bought on the streets, but better go to one of their stores (locator) for registration.

Top-up vouchers can be found everywhere.

Data feature packages Edit

These packages are offered:

Data Time Price
50 MB 1 day $ 0.50
500 MB 1 day $ 1
2 GB 30 days $ 5
10 GB 30 days $ 20
20 GB 30 days $ 40
40 GB 30 days $ 60

Activation by *352#

Combo plansEdit

These combo plans called "Smart Dollar" are sold including on-net minutes, SMS, international minutes and data:

On-net voice SMS Internatl. Data Time Price
1500 mins 100 30 mins 3 GB 5 days $ 5
1500 mins 200 90 mins 10 GB 15 days $ 15
1500 mins 300 200 mins 20 GB 30 days $ 30

Activation by *515#.

More infoEdit

Orange Liberia (formerly Cellcom)Edit

Orange UK

new Orange logo

Orange bought Cellcom through its Ivory Coast subsidiary in 2016 and rebranded in 2017. Now they claim to have overtaken LoneStar in market share. They were the first operator in Liberia to launch 3G (HSPA+) services in 2012 followed by 4G/LTE services in Monrovia in 2016, later expanded to Kakata and other places: 4G coverage map.

They announced an agressive expansion plan of US$ 15 million to cover more remote areas. Part of this plan is to accelerate broadband deployment and to expand 4G/LTE penetration across the country.

AvailabilityEdit

Their SIM card can be bought on the streets, but better go to one of their stores (locator) for registration.

Orange scratch cards can be purchased in the amounts of $1, $5, $10, $15, $25, $50 or $100 from any of their points of sales throughout the country. To top-up enter *125*<voucher code>#.

Check balance by *124# and your phone number by *266#.
Cellcom-0

old Cellcom logo

Data feature packagesEdit

These packages are offered:

Data Time Price Activation
50 MB 24 hours $ 0.25 *474*23#
75 MB $ 0.50 *474*25#
150 MB $ 0.70 *474*50#
500 MB $ 1 *474*100#
1 GB 1 month $ 5 *269#
3 GB $ 10 *268#
5 GB $ 25 *267#
10 GB $ 24 *474*24#
20 GB $ 45 *474*45#
30 GB $ 59 *474*59#
unlimited $ 99 *474*149#
20 GB 1 year $ 99 *474*99#
32 GB $ 129 *474*330#
50 GB $ 179 *474*430#

Packages don't auto-renew. Unused data rolls over to the next month, if you have bought another pack.

For social media and streaming they have added these two packages:

  • 1 GB for Facebook, WhatsApp, IMO, WeChat, Twitter and Viber for 30 days: $ 5, activation: *474*60#
  • 2.5 GB for IMO, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Viber, WeChat, Deezer, Jango and SoundCloud for 30 days: $ 10, activation: *474*61#

Combo plans Edit

These combo plans called Star Packs are sold including unlimited on-net minutes, SMS, call minutes to the USA and data:

Voice and SMS Voice USA Data Time Price
on-net unlimited 30 mins 3 GB 5 days $ 5
on-net unlimited 90 mins 10 GB 15 days $ 15
on-net unlimited 200 mins 20 GB 30 days $ 30

Activation is by *515#.

More infoEdit