The African country of Rwanda has these network operators:
- Tigo (to be merged with Airtel)
- Airtel (to be merged with Tigo)
- KTRN (for Korea Telecom Rwanda Networks) on 4G/LTE only
The licence of another operator called Rwandatel was revoked in 2011.
All 2G/GSM is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G up to HSPA+ on 900 and 2100 MHz.
Bharti Airtel has agreed to acquire Tigo Rwanda from Millicom in Dec. 2017. The acquisition will consolidate the Rwandan telecom market when the two networks will be merged in the coming years.
4G/LTE has started in 2014 on Korea Telecom Rwanda Networks (KTRN) renamed from Olleh Rwanda Networks (ORN) which is an open-access 4G joint venture between South Korea’s KT Corp. and the Rwandan government. They are building a common wholesale network on 800 MHz starting in Kingali and reaching the whole country. ORN offers 4G/LTE connectivity to local mobile operators and ISPs on a wholesale basis. At the beginning of 2018 it reached its goal to cover 95% of the population by 4G/LTE: (4G/LTE coverage map) so far.
All three incumbent cellcos (MTN, Tigo and Airtel) have launched services over KTRN’s 4G/LTE network, while other companies permitted to resell ORN’s 4G/LTE service include: GMAX, Intercom Technologies, 4NetAfrica, Piramie, Twinning in Corporation, Simba Supermarket, TRUCONNECT, POPCONN and Suku NSA (full list).
Local SIM cards can be purchased at many local stores and at Kigali International Airport. There are also multiple phone registration kiosks and stands around the city where you may purchase and register SIM cards. Travelers should be sure to check whether their local SIM can make international calls, roaming and send text messages as these services often have to be specifically activated.
In February 2013 the government of Rwanda initiated the mandatory registration process as an anti-crime measure. All unregistered SIM cards were switched off from August 2013. At the point of purchase you may need to register your SIM now. For this you have to show your passport, hand over a copy and fill out a registration form.
MTN based in South Africa is the leading operator in the country with the best coverage and 42% of the nation's subscribers on its network in 2017. They claim to have a 95% coverage in the country (see coverage map). But this refers to 2G only. 3G is only available in the centers. It used to have a market share of 100% back in 1998, but now faces stiff competition from 2 new players in the market.
Their SIM card is available in MTN Shops (list) and at the airport. These are often mobile stands clearly visible on the street. They are available in all mini and micro sizes, nano may have to be cut to size. Regular price is 500 RWF, but can be lower in promotions or higher for services like cutting.
Top-ups can be made by vouchers sold there or at M-Charge outlets and other stores. The PIN needs to be typed in your phone like *111*<code># or online. With an internatl. credit card or from abroad you can use agencies like ezetop or Ding. To check main balance, dial *110#.
Data feature packagesEdit
Default rate outside of packages has been reduced to 10 RWF per MB. These bundles are offered for 2G/3G:
|24 hours||15 MB||100 RWF|
|50 MB||200 RWF|
|100 MB||350 RWF|
|200 MB||500 RWF|
|1 GB||1,000 RWF|
|7 days||500 MB||1,000 RWF|
|1.5 GB||2,000 RWF|
|1 GB/day||5,000 RWF|
|30 days||300 MB||1,000 RWF|
|1 GB||2,000 RWF|
|3 GB||5,000 RWF|
|10 GB||10,000 RWF|
|30 GB||25,000 RWF|
|1 GB/day||21,000 RWF|
|2 GB/day||25,000 RWF|
|3 GB/day||30,000 RWF|
Activate by *345# and choose bundle. To check the bundle balance, dial *345*5#, Wikipedia is given out free of charge. Wikipedia can be used free of charge. Facebook access is offered 7 days for free aften activation. Then it costs 35 RWF per day, 150 RWF per week or 350 RWF per month. Activation is by USSD code *198#.
WiFi bundles Edit
MTN Hotspots are available in Kigali, Rwamagana, Ruhengeri, Gisenyi, Huye & Cyangugu. To get a code dial *346# and follow the commands. Password must be 8 to 12 digits or characters long. Open any webpage on your browser and you will be re-directed to the MTN Hotspot page that will prompt you for a username and password. Once you log on you will be online instantly and can start browsing.
Enjoy MTN WiFi by default is at 25 RWF per MB and 10 RWF/MB every night between 1:00-6:00am. You can buy two packages:
- daily (midnight-midnight): 1 GB at 1000 RWF, activation: *346*1#
- weekly (for 7 days): 1 GB at 6500 RWF, activation: *346*7#
Bundles can be bought from the SIM card credit. To check the bundle balance, dial *345#.
4G/LTE bundles Edit
In May 2016 MTN began to resell KTRN's 4G/LTE network (see basics). To enjoy 4G, MTN subscribers will have to upgrade to a 4G SIM card for 1,000 RWF and need a 4G-capable device on 800 MHz. Once connected to the 4G network, customers will dial *345# and select the 4G bundle to purchase a daily, weekly or monthly pack.
- daily: 1 GB 4G + 350 MB 3G for 1 day - 1900 RWF
- weekly: 1 GB 4G per day + 500 MB 3G for 7 days - 11,500 RWF
- monthly: 1 GB 4G per day + 1 GB 3G for 30 days - 41,000 RWF
- volume-based: 5 GB for 30 days - 20,000 RWF
- APN: internet.mtn
- Website in English:http://www.mtn.co.rw/
Tigo (to be merged with Airtel)Edit
Tigo changed the game when it entered the market in Rwanda in 2008. It is now the 2nd operator with a 39% share in 2017 and biggest gainer in recent years. Their coverage is not as good as MTN's, but they offer quite lower rates. In the coming years Tigo will be merged with Airtel and TigoAirtel will be the new market leader.
SIM card is available at their points of sales and at other stores. Mini-SIM (2FF), micro-SIM (3FF) and nano-SIM (4FF) available.
Top-up vouchers are sold there for 300 - 10,000 RWF valid for 30 or 60 days or by interntl. credit card on aryty. Check balance by *131#. To add credit type *130*<voucher PIN>#.
In 2017 Tigo extended SIM card validity for all prepaid customers from 6 months to 2 years. Previously, all customers had to reload their credit every 6 months to keep their SIM cards active. Now a recharge of any amount extends the validity of a SIM card by 2 years.
Data feature packsEdit
Default data rate is 51 RMF per MB. These data bundles are offered for 2G/3G:
|24 hours||17 MB||100 RWF||*340*100#|
|24 hours||65 MB||250 RWF||*340*250#|
|24 hours||200 MB||350 RWF||*340*350#|
|48 hours||500 MB||600 RWF||*340*600#|
|48 hours||1.2 GB||800 RWF||*340*800#|
|7 days||750 MB||1,000 RWF||*340*1000#|
|7 days||1.5 GB||2,000 RWF||*340*2000#|
|30 days||1 GB||2,000 RWF||*340*2001#|
|30 days||3 GB||3,500 RWF||*340*3500#|
|30 days||5 GB||5,500 RWF||*340*5500#|
|30 days||10 GB||10,000 RWF||*340*10000#|
|60 days||30 GB||22,000 RWF||*340*22000#|
For social media special packages are issued, that include unlimited Facebook and WhatsApp only:
- daily: 100 RWF
- weekly: 500 RWF
- monthly: 1000 RWF
To activate the social media bundles, dial *255*2#
4G/LTE bundles Edit
For the new 800 MHz KTRN 4G/LTE internet, Tigo resells these bundles called Go 4G Mobile:
|24 hours||100 MB||300 RWF|
|24 hours||200 MB||500 RWF|
|24 hours||1 GB||200 MB||1,500 RWF|
|7 days||1 GB||350 MB||3,000 RWF|
|7 days||3.5 GB||1 GB||10,000 RWF|
|30 days||5 GB||1.5 GB||15,000 RWF|
|30 days||7 GB||2.5 GB||20,000 RWF|
|30 days||10 GB||3.5 GB||28,000 RWF|
|30 days||15 GB||4 GB||40,000 RWF|
For purchase you need to have a 4G-enabled SIM card and dial *310#. Extra allowance for social media includes WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Twesé.
- APN: web.tigo.rw
- Website: http://www.tigo.co.rw/
Airtel (to be merged with Tigo)EditAirtel, by Indian Bharti Airtel is the latest arrival in the country and started with its data service as late as 2013. They have a market share of only 19% in 2017 and the lowest coverage so far at the best prices. They have a huge variety of packages, but better check coverage first. In the coming years Airtel will be merged with Tigo to become the new leader.
SIM card is available in their Airtel Distributor Shops. Check balance by *131#, to recharge by voucher enter *130*<voucher PIN>#. Vouchers are available for 100-5000 RWF.
Data feature packsEdit
Default rate for their "3.75G" data network is 51 RWF per MB. Roaming on Tigo network is possible but for a surcharge for 412 RWF per MB. They offer these packages for the Airtel 2G/3G network:
|24 hours||7 MB||50 RWF||*456*2*5#|
|24 hours||18 MB||100 RWF||*456*2*12#|
|24 hours||100 MB||200 RWF||*456*2*50#|
|24 hours||210 MB||300 RWF||*456*2*200#|
|24 hours||1 GB||500 RWF||*456*2*500#|
|24 hours||1.5 GB||800 RWF||*456*1*2#|
|48 hours||530 MB||500 RWF||*456*2*530#|
|48 hours||1.3 GB||800 RWF||*456*1*13#|
|7 days||800 MB||1,000 RWF||*456*2*750#|
|7 days||1.6 GB||2,000 RWF||*456*2*1500#|
|7 days||7 GB||5,000 RWF||*456*1*7#|
|30 days||3.2 GB||3,000 RWF||*456*2*3000#|
|30 days||5.2 GB||5,000 RWF||*456*1*5000#|
|30 days||16 GB||15,000 RWF||*456*1*15000#|
|30 days||36 GB||21,000 RWF||*456*1*30#|
|30 days||90 GB||40,000 RWF||*456*1*40#|
|60 days||8 GB||8,000 RWF||*456*1*8000#|
|60 days||21 GB||21,000 RWF||*456*1*21#|
Furthermore, new Bomba packs have been introduced giving 1 GB per day:
- 1 GB for a day: 500 RWF
- 1 GB per day for a week: 3,000 RWF
- 1 GB per day for a month: 10,000 RWF
Activate by *456#.
4G/LTE packages Edit
Airtel also resells the KTRN 4G/LTE network on 800 MHz. They offer these packages for 4G/LTE:
You can also top-up with vouchers sold by Airtel for 5,000, 10,000 or 20,000 RWF online here.
More info Edit
- APN: internet