Eswatini, formerly called Swaziland and also called kaNgwane or eSwatini, is a sovereign state in Southern Africa, neighboured by Mozambique and the Republic of South Africa. It's a landlocked country of 17,000 km2 and 1.2 million inhabitants. Eswatini as it's now called, has now two mobile network providers:
- MTN Eswatini (formerly MTN Swaziland)
- Eswatini Mobile (formerly: Swazi Mobile)
Swaziland or now called Eswatini was one of the last countries in the world to abolish an almost complete monopoly in all sectors of its telecommunications market. Until 2011 the state-owned posts and telecommunications operator SPTC also acted as the industry regulator and had a stake in the country’s sole mobile network, in an uneasy partnership with South Africa’s MTN.
A new independent regulatory authority was established in 2013 and has since embarked on radical changes to the telecom sector. SPTC temporarily entered the mobile market independently, but was challenged about this by MTN in the courts and had to close down again. Now Eswatini has released a 2nd mobile license to locally owned Eswatini Mobile which has started in 2017 and since renamed from Swazi Mobile.
Note that very few operators actually offer international roaming in Eswatini. Not even all South African providers, but only MTN for a surcharge. As Eswatini is landlocked, the country depends on neighbouring countries for international fibre bandwidth. This means that access pricing was high for many years, though prices have fallen more recently in line with greater bandwidth availability resulting from several new submarine fibre-optic cable systems, that have reached the region.
From 2018 on all SIM cards need to be registered by law. Users face being de-activated if they fail to register their SIM cards by April 1, 2019.
The currency given in this article is lilangeni (plural: emalangeni, code SZL), the national currency of Eswatini. It's pegged 1:1 to the South African rand (ZAR).
Up to 2017 MTN Swaziland, also called MTN Swazi and now renamed to MTN Eswatini, was the only provider in the country. It has a quite good coverage up to 4G/LTE at rather high prices. That's why many local people complain about rates higher than in South Africa.
2G is up to EDGE on 900 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz and 4G/LTE was added in 2014 on 1800 MHz (Band 3).
Finding a SIM card in Eswatini is about the equivalent of looking for a taco in Mexico. They are sold in MTN stores (list) and everywhere for about SZL 10 without credit. Prepaid is called PayAsYouGo like in the UK.
So you need to top-up at the start. MTN vouchers can be bought from most major retail stores across the country in the form of scratch cards or till slips. Each voucher has a unique PIN code printed on it. In order to load the indicated amount of MTN airtime onto your phone, simply dial *141*<voucher PIN>#.
To check balance dial *556# or *557#.
Data feature packages
Out-of-bundle rate is SZL 1.14 per MB. All of their bundles are valid for 30 days:
|8 MB||1 day||SZL 2|
|23 MB||SZL 5|
|47 MB||SZL 10|
|120 MB||SZL 25|
|100 MB||7 days||SZL 17|
|185 MB||SZL 25|
|500 MB||SZL 55|
|1 GB||SZL 70|
|200 MB||30 days||SZL 40|
|350 MB||SZL 60|
|500 MB||SZL 80|
|1 GB||SZL 150|
|2 GB||SZL 250|
|3 GB||SZL 350|
|5 GB||SZL 450|
|7 GB||SZL 550|
|10 GB||SZL 750|
|15 GB||SZL 1100|
|20 GB||SZL 1250|
|25 GB||SZL 1500|
They also offer special bundles for social media (Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube), nighttime bundles and combo packs. For activation of data bundles dial *686*1# and select your bundle.
There are two other ways:
- MTN DataShare: allows you to share data bundles with another MTN customer. To do so, dial *565*<bundle size>*<number>#. You can share up to 30 MB per day.
- Me2UData: allows you to buy internet bundles for another MTN customer. To do so, dial *567*<number>*<bundle size># and a message will be sent notifying that he or she has received a bundle from you.
In 2019 MTN Eswatini introduced the MTN Tourist SIM card aimed at visiting customers during the recent Bushfire festival. The Tourist SIM enables customers to buy, register a filmcard and get a pre-loaded Combo that includes local voice, international voice and data. The cards retailed at SZL 99 with 15 minutes of international voice, 45 minutes of local on-net voice and 1 GB pre-loaded to specific starter packs. The SIM cards are made available at tourist entry points/border gates and at specific MTN outlets along the country’s entry points.
- APN: mymtn.co.sz
- Website: http://www.mtn.co.sz
Eswatini Mobile (formerly: Swazi Mobile)
Newly licensed operator Swazi Mobile broke the monopoly of MTN in the country when it launched on 28/7/2017. It shares tower infrastructure with incumbent MTN. The operator has disclosed plans to invest SZL 600 million (US$ 44.8 million) in its network over the course of the next 5 years. In 2019 it was renamed to Eswatini Mobile after the country changed names.
The newcomer is headed by local tycoon Victor Gamedze and was awarded a concession in December 2016, fending off competition from locally-owned SDnet and international providers Viettel and Orange.
The network is started in Mbabane, Ezulwini, Matsapha, Manzini and 24 other towns. Their service covers 80% of the population in 2017. All sites have 4G/3G/2G voice and data services and now cover major parts (see list)
The SIM cards are now officially available. They each sell at E 50 and come with already loaded airtime. For salespoints check this list.
Vouchers for top-ups are sold in their stores and on the streets. To top-up enter *200*<voucher PIN>#. Check balance by *202#.
Standard data rate is SZL 0.80 per MB. These packages are sold valid for 30 days:
|7 MB||3.5 MB||SZL 2|
|20 MB||10 MB||SZL 5|
|30 MB||15 MB||SZL 10|
|40 MB||20 MB||SZL 20|
|70 MB||35 MB||SZL 25|
|100 MB||50 MB||SZL 30|
|130 MB||65 MB||SZL 35|
|200 MB||100 MB||SZL 50|
|400 MB||200 MB||SZL 90|
|512 MB||256 MB||SZL 100|
|1 GB||512 MB||SZL 150|
|2.5 GB||1.25 GB||SZL 295|
|5 GB||2.5 GB||SZL 500|
|7.5 GB||3.75 GB||SZL 700|
|10 GB||5 GB||SZL 800|