Mobile Phones and SIM Cards

Mobile Phones and SIM Cards

It was with a heavy heart that we decided to pull the plug on PhilGuides Southern Africa, it was a passion project and circumstances beyond our control made it impossible to continue. We saved all the information and carried it here. Geraldine and Pascal will try to keep it up to date and add more information as time goes by, you may even find a tour or two in the future.

The international dial code for South Africa is +27 followed by nine local numbers.
To dial out of South Africa, you may either use 00 or the + sign on your phone.
Telkom directory inquiries are available at 1023 from a landline.

Mobile phone network availability

South Africa’s mobile phone networks cover the majority of the country. There are some dead spots and networks are not always available or reliable inside game reserves and rural areas.

South Africa’s mobile phone network also supports 3G and LTE for Internet use, though this can be spotty in rural areas.

The country’s four networks are

International roaming

Most global networks have agreements with one or more of our major networks. You can get more information from your mobile communication supplier.

Roaming is possible within the borders of South Africa, and we recommend that you find out the cost involved as roaming can be expensive.

The alternative to roaming

Get a local SIM card with some data to navigate, post some photos and use OTT messaging such as Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or similar. 

You can buy pay-as-you-go SIM cards at your arrival in South Africa, these are inexpensive and are generally reliable. You can find SIM cards at all major airports, but be aware of being scammed and buy your SIM card from an approved outlet.

To get a SIM card in South Africa, you will need your passport and any proof of address in South Africa. Your hotel booking will generally suffice, this is to comply with the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (commonly known as RICA) without which your SIM card cannot be activated.

To use any South African Sim card in your mobile phone, you will have to make sure that your phone has not been locked by your provider as is often the case in Europe and the United States. You may ask your provider to unlock your phone; although this might incur a cost. Some providers will allow you to unlock your phone for a period, which can be cheaper or free.

Pay-as-you-go vouchers are available countrywide at various shops and most petrol stations. These come in multiple formats: airtime, data and SMS. Make sure you get the right one for your purpose.

Some mobile operators may penalise you for using over-the-top services to make phone calls such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook messenger and others.