Prepaid Data SIM Card Wiki


Kenya has now these network operators:

  • Safaricom
  • Airtel (formerly Zain) - to be merged with Telkom
  • Telkom (formerly Orange) - to be merged with Airtel
  • Faiba 4G (on 4G-only)

2G is on 900 and 1800 MHz and 3G on 2100 MHz on all three providers. 4G/LTE has started in 2014 with Safaricom on 800 (B20) and 1800 MHz (B3) and has started with Airtel on 800 MHz (B20).. In 2017 Faiba launched its 4G-only network in a very limited area of the country. YU (by Essar Telekom) has been closed in 2015.

In 2019 Telkom and Airtel Kenya have announced to merge their mobile businesses in order to operate under a joint venture company to be known as Airtel-Telkom to create a stronger challenger to market leader Safaricom. Airtel and Telkom said that both brands, as well as their respective products and solutions, will continue to co-exist, and service delivery will continue to operate as usual. The finalisation and closure of the transaction is subject to approval by the relevant authorities.

Coverage is pretty good, except for the very remote areas in the north, but mobile towers are sometimes overload, which leads to slow speeds. But the mobile network is rapidly being expanded.

In Kenya mobile phones are often used as a payment method. So advanced payment systems are employed by all three providers for all kinds of payments. Even a first MVNO called Equitel has started in 2014 as a subsidiary of a local bank providing only banking and payment services so far.


For the purchase of a SIM card, you officially need to show a Kenyan photo ID or passport as all subscribers need to be registered since 2010. But on the streets, this is not always enforced. The government has released new rules on the use of SIM cards in 2017. Giving a stranger one's phone to make a distress call could now lead to 6 months behind bars and a fine of KES 10,000, if the mobile device has been used to commit a crime.

The regulator says all Kenyans must only use registered SIM cards as they may be culpable in the event that their number is used in the commission of a crime. When purchasing a SIM card, one should demand that it be registered promptly and receive proof of registration before starting to use the line. This mainly concerns buying SIM cards from hawkers on the street. Officially every buyer must provide a copy of their ID as proof of identity before the new line is registered and activated for use. These guidelines are likely to affect the sale of SIM cards on the streets at between KES 50-100 by sales agents who still hardly request any form of identity from buyers. This warning comes on the back of rising concern over incidents of extortion, killings and kidnappings linked to abuse of mobile phone lines.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has given mobile operators until 23 September 2018 to disconnect all ‘illegal’ SIM cards that are either fraudulently registered, unregistered or partly registered on their network. The regulator’s decision follows an audit that revealed numerous instances of non-compliance with subscriber identification regulations. Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya will have to pay a fine amounting to 0.2% of their annual income if they fail to deactivate unregistered SIMs, while subscribers providing false information for identification risk a fine of US$ 992 or imprisonment for six months.

In 2018 some prices were raised passing on to consumers a new 15% excise duty tax imposed on phone and internet services by the Finance Act 2018. This is in addition to the prevailing VAT applicable to mobile services at the rate of 16%. All prices mentioned are final prices with taxes included.



Safaricom is the dominant provider in the country. It's co-owned by Vodafone and the public. In 2017 it had 30 million subscribers giving it a whopping 76% of the national base and the best coverage even in remote areas. Because of its many users though, it can be overcrowded and suffer from slow speeds.

4G/LTE has started in 2014 in the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa on 800 and 1800 MHz. This was extended in 2016 to the towns of Nakuru, Elodret, Meru, Kisii and Kisumu and further towns followe for 4G and a 80% 3G coverage is intended. In 2017 4G/LTE is present in all 47 counties of Kenya covering about 1/3 of the population.

Safaricom's payment system is called M-Pesa and is of course the most used in the country.


It is easy to buy or recharge a Safaricom prepaid card nearly anywhere in Kenya. For registration, you should go to one of their or M-Pesa stores. To confirm if you are fully registered, dial *232#. Otherwise, your line can be suspended.

Their only prepaid SIM card is sold for KES 100. For 4G use be sure to buy a 4G-enabled SIM. New 4G subscribers will get 4 GB of data free for two days to test out the network (promotion until 26/Dec/2016).

Top-ups can be made with vouchers called Bamba sold everywhere. Value is KES 5 to 1000 and validity ranges from 30 to 120 days.

Data feature packs[]

The default rate out of bundles is KES 4 per MB. Safaricom offers these new packages for data:

Price Volume Whats App Period
daily bundles:
KES 5 7 MB no 24


KES 10 15 MB no
KES 20 35 MB yes
KES 50 150 MB yes
KES 99 500 MB yes
KES 99 1 GB no
weekly bundles:
KES 50 100 MB no 7


KES 99 350 MB yes
KES 250 1 GB yes
KES 500 3 GB yes
KES 999 10 GB no
monthly bundles:
KES 250 350 MB no 30 days
KES 500 2 GB yes
KES 1000 5 GB yes
KES 2000 15 GB yes
KES 3000 25 GB yes
3-monthly bundles:
KES 3000 6 GB 90 days
KES 6000 16 GB
KES 9000 30 GB

To activate the bundles type *544# or buy them online. You will receive a message informing you of the status of activation of the bundle. You will be able to use the service once you receive an SMS informing you that the bundle has been activated. The bundles marked with WhatsApp give unlimited free WhatsApp, even when the general balance is used up.

Unlimited bundles or night-time rates have been discontiued. To check balance type *144#, to check data balance of bundles *450*1#. You can roll over unused data on 7 day, 30 day and 90 day bundles, if you buy a new one before the old has expired. Safaricom sends you a notification 48 hours before the bundle expires informing you about the expiry of the internet bundle.

Internet settings[]

It's possible to obtain the settings automatically by sending an SMS or entering a system command on the phone. But they are also easy to set manually.

  • APN: safaricom
  • Username: saf (not required for Android)
  • Password: data (not required for Android)

More information[]

airtel Kenya (to be merged with Telkom)[]


Airtel, owned by Indian Bharti Airtel is the second provider in the country. They won the customers of YU after their closure in 2014 and have 15.5% of the national user base in 2017. It's coverage is not as good as Safaricom, but still covers 75% of population in 2016 by 3G:(coverage map).

In 2017 Airtel is set to begin trialling a 4G/LTE network in the capital Nairobi and will be expanded to 45 other sites in major towns, including Mombasa and Kisumu within the year. In 2018 it bought their license on band 20 (800 MHz) and in May Airtel announced the commercial launch of 4G/LTE services. Coverage is currently available in the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa, although the network will be expanded to other locations in due course.

In 2019 Airtel and Telkom have announced to merge their networks pending approval of the authorities to maintain both brands under a new combined Airtel-Telkom network.


Their SIM card is sold in their stores and outlets (store locator). Airtel welcomes customers topping up airtime worth KES 50 and above on their new SIM card with KES 30 for calls and SMS ‎to any network in Kenya and 30 MB of data valid for 7 days. Customers also get free access to WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter during the same period. Customers who choose to top up airtime worth KES 20 on their new SIM card get KES 10 for calls and texts ‎to any network in Kenya and 10 MB of data, all valid for three days and the same free social media use.

Top-ups can be made online by credit card or by vouchers.

Data feature packs[]

In 2017 their "New Amazing Data Bundles" were introduced for 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE:

Price Volume Period


daily bundles:
KES 5 8 MB 24 hours
KES 10 25 MB 24 hours
KES 20 70 MB 24 hours free
KES 50 200 MB 24 hours free
KES 99 2 GB 24 hours free
weekly bundles:
KES 50 150 MB 7 days free
KES 100 350 MB 7 days free
KES 250 2 GB 7 days free
KES 500 6 GB 7 days free
monthly bundles:
KES 300 1.5 GB 30 days free
KES 500 4 GB 30 days free
KES 1000 10 GB 30 days free
KES 1500 15 GB 30 days free
KES 2000 20 GB 30 days free
KES 3000 40 GB 30 days free
90 days bundles:
KES 3000 12 GB 90 days
KES 6000 40 GB 90 days
KES 9000 70 GB 90 days

To purchase, dial *544# or go online. On internet bundles customers have the choice of selection of one time bundle and auto renewal bundles

More information[]

  • APN: internet

Telkom (formerly Orange, to be merged with Airtel)[]


Telkom in Kenya is the smallest provider caring for only 8% of the country's users. It was sold by Orange Group to private equity firm Helios Investment Partners in June 2016. Helios holds 60% and the Government of Kenya the rest. They have dropped the Orange brand and adopted Telkom as its new trading name in 2017.

It has the lowest coverage in the country, but because of their few users, it can give great speeds, where covered. In 2015 the migration from their old CDMA to GSM network has been completed and its CDMA network is now closed down. 4G/LTE has started in the towns of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu and has spread to 17 further towns so far. 2G coverage is at 95% and 3G at 55% in 2017.

In 2019 Airtel and Telkom have announced to merge their networks pending approval of the authorities to maintain both brands under a new combined Airtel-Telkom network.


Their SIM card is sold in their shops and outlets (Store locator). Their standard plan is called Tujuane. If you choose not to use the services for a period of over 180 days after the end of the validity of your last recharge the SIM will be suspended.

Top-ups can be made by vouchers or Pesapoint ATMs.

Data feature packs[]

Default rate outside of bundles is KES 4 per MB. They offer these data packages:

Data Time Price
25 MB 1 day KES 9
80 MB KES 19
500 MB KES 49
2 GB KES 99
40 MB 7 days KES 19
140 MB KES 49
400 MB KES 99
2 GB KES 249
12 GB KES 990
1 GB 30 days KES 249
3 GB KES 499
10 GB KES 999
20 GB KES 1999
36 GB KES 2999

A customer can subscribe to the packages by dialing #123#. This short code will open up to a USSD menu that will have various options for various bundle purchases and unsubscription to the bundle.

They offer a "Home Plan" SIM card intended for stationary 4G router use in their 4G coverage areas. Default rate for Home Plans is KES 2 per MB and they offer these packages:

Data Time Price
5 GB 24 hours KES 199
3 GB 7 days KES 499
10 GB 30 days KES 999
25 GB KES 1999
40 GB KES 2999
unlimited KES 3999
100 GB 90 Days KES 5999

Balance check for all plans is *131# and overuse charged at the default rate. All bundles, but the daily bundles, will not auto-renew. You can extend the validity of your bundle by purchasing another bundle of equal or higher validity period just before the current bundle expires except the daily offers which can only be extended by another daily offer.

More information[]

  • APN:

Faiba 4G (4G-only, by JTL)[]


Faiba 4G by triple-play provider Jamii Telecommunications Ltd. (JTL) started in December 2017 in a very limited area a 4G-only network on 700 MHz (Band 28). There is no fallback to 2G or 3G and all voice services are provided through VoLTE.

At launch, Faiba boasts of 300 base stations with a target of achieving 1000 stations by 2020. JTL says that Faiba customers can achieve up to 72 Mbps speeds. Faiba is so far available in the following areas: Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu and Thika.

Faiba can't be recommended for travellers so far, but offers one of the lowest data prices in Africa where you have coverage.


Their SIM card is available for free when you buy a data pass in some stores like PhoneXpress.

To top-up you can reload at some local stores or using the M-Pesa payment system. Check balance by *131#.

Data feature packages[]

Default data is at KES 3 per MB. These data packages are offered and include unlimited VoLTE on-net calls:

Data Validity Price
unlimited 1 hour KES 150
1 GB 1 day KES 50
8 GB 7 days KES 300
15 GB 30 days KES 500
25 GB 30 days KES 1000
40 GB 30 days KES 2000
70 GB 30 days KES 3000
120 GB 30 days KES 4000
210 GB 30 days KES 6000

Activation is through *544# or *111#

More information[]