I wondered about the internet in Africa before we left. It’s the least developed continent and I’ve never seen anyone raving about keeping up with their Netflix addiction in Zambia. When we landed in South Africa we were uncertain of how we would be able to manage digital work while traveling Africa. Information on the topic is vague.
Some of our friends have even stated that “there is no internet in Africa.” While that may not be true – this is Africa – not the North Pole and we are in the 21st century. Here is the state of internet in Africa from a first-hand perspective of spending a year of working on a laptop while traveling.
The Lowdown on the Internet in Africa
This is an outline of the costs, main internet providers, and personal experience with the internet in Africa. Remember that we work online (on this website!) so our internet needs are more than the average user who just wants to surf the web and occasionally check Facebook (like our page!).
Surprisingly, we haven’t gone more than a few days without internet throughout our whole time in Africa. This is due to purchasing sim cards and airtime on the go. The majority of the internet in Africa is still through mobile. However, the ability to stream, upload or download was only possible at business hotels in a few major cities.
The Internet in South Africa
- Vodacom, Telcom, OneCell, and MTN are the cell phone and internet providers
- Vodacom costs 400 Rand for 10 GB of data for one month
- I expected the internet in South Africa to be okay. We spent two months in Cape Town with hopes to catch up on work in a modern city. However, I found the internet in South Africa to be some of the worst for the price paid. “Free WiFi” rarely worked well and anytime I went to a cafe I was always limited to 100-500 MB for the duration of my visit. We found fiber internet twice in Cape Town, but they are in the process of rolling it out everywhere. Fingers crossed. From my talks with the South Africans, I can only conclude that the internet is poor due to the sheer number of people “on the grid.”
The Internet in Swaziland
- MTN is the only internet provider in Swaziland. Apparently, King Mswati III is in bed with the company and MTN has the monopoly over the entire country.
- The cost is 400 Swazi Lilangeni for 1.5 GB of data. That’s about $30!
- Due to the insanely high cost of the internet in Swaziland, we decided to just live without it for the week we were there. We couldn’t really find reliable WiFi in cafes either. Yes, the world still turns without internet.
The Internet in Mozambique
- Vodacom is the main service provider in Mozambique
- 500 Meticals got us 5 GB of data
- None of the places we stayed ever had free WiFi that worked (even if advertised), but we didn’t mind because it was so darn cheap to buy data here.
- We were able to have internet even in the wilderness of Mozambique and never worried about using up our data since it was so affordable. Hell, we even went on a download spree when we left the country because we had so much data left over.
The Internet in Namibia
- MTN and TN Mobile are the main service providers
- MTN is more expensive but works better than TN Mobile
- TN mobile is cheap with the Jiva surfer plan. We paid 40 Namibian dollars for 2 GB of data.
- Expect the internet to only work in main towns. This is a desert country with most of the population living in towns and bare roads for hours and hours.
The Internet in Botswana
- Orange and BTC Mobile are the main service providers
- BTC Mobile cost 30 Pula per 70 MB
- We found the best WiFi in Botswana in Maun at the Old Bridge Backpackers.
- You may get Bush satellite WiFi if you are staying at a lodge in the Delta, but don’t expect it to be wonderful.
The Internet in Zambia
- AirTel, MTN, and Vodacom are the most widely covered networks in Zambia.
- A sim card costs 5 Zambian Kwacha and we got 2 GB of data for 140 Zambian Kwacha for one week.
- We found the WiFi in Lusaka to work well but forget it anywhere outside of main cities.
- We also found the data prices in Zambia to be some of the highest in Africa.
The Internet in Zimbabwe
- Econet is the main service provider
- Data will run you $2 for 50 MB
- With the crazy high prices in just about all of Zimbabwe we opted out of a sim card and data and prayed for decent WiFi at the places we stayed. We were able to stay connected in Vic Falls, but went completely offline for our Christmas safari around Lake Kariba.
The Internet in Malawi
- Airtel is the main service providers
- It cost us 500 Malawian Kwacha for a sim card and 2000 Malawian Kwacha for 1 GB. Malawi was the only country where we didn’t actually have to register for a sim card and just picked it up at a roadside stand with airtime.
- We found the WiFi along Lake Malawi to work quite well. We were also able to buy airtime vouchers just about anywhere in Malawi.
The Internet in Tanzania
- Vodacom and Airtel are the main service providers on the mainland. Holatel is the most widely used in Zanzibar.
- It cost us 30,000 Tanzanian Shillings for 10 GB of data for one month. Score!
- I found the coverage to be great throughout most of Tanzania.
The Internet in Rwanda
- MTN is the main service provider
- We paid 5000 Rwandan Francs for 7 GB of data for one week. Data is limited to 1 GB per day
- The internet in Rwanda was cheap, but it didn’t work great especially during peak times.
The Internet in Uganda
- MTN is the main service provider
- We paid 90,000 Ugandan Shillings for 5 GB of data over the course of a month.
- We found the 3G coverage to work quite well and only went without a signal once while staying in the Kibale Forest.
- We went Gorilla Trekking and found reception everywhere on our Uganda road trip.
The Internet in Kenya
- Safaricom is the main service provider, and I felt like they always skimmed data off of us. Corruption seems to even leak down to the internet providers!
- 500 Kenyan Shillings gets you 1 GB of data for one month.
- We have found 3G coverage in almost all parts of Kenya – even the Masai Mara and the Diani Beach! The 4G is also reliable in the major cities of Kenya.
Internet in Morocco
- Maroc Telecom, Meditel, and Inwi are the main service providers. Maroc Telecom seemed to work the best in Marrakech, Essaouira, and other main cities.
- We paid 50 Dirham for 5 GB of data for one month
- We were able to find WiFi (albeit slow) in almost all cafes and riads.
These are my experiences with the internet throughout Southern, Eastern, and even a little of Northern Africa. I wanted to make this post because so many people have asked us how we are keeping up with work and how the internet is here in Africa. While I can’t say the internet in Africa is half of what I expect in North America, Europe, and parts of Asia I have been able tokeep up with work while here – just with a lot of patience.