The African country of Rwanda has these network operators:
- Airtel-Tigo (merged from Tigo and Airtel)
- kt Rwanda (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The licence of another operator called Rwandatel was revoked in 2011.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. In 2018 96.4% of Rwanda’s population is covered by 4G/LTE: (4G/LTE coverage map) so far.
All two incumbent cellcos (MTN and Airtel-Tigo) 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.
In 2019 the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) has published new rules covering the ownership of SIM cards. Users are now limited to a maximum of three cards for each of the country’s two network operators, MTN and Tigo/Airtel for locals. Foreigners are allowed to have only one SIM card from MTN and Tigo-Airtel only. Exemptions are available for businesses and for parents who wish to buy SIM cards for their children. The new regulations, which come into force on 31 January, are designed to ensure that all SIM cards are registered to a single user in order to prevent mobile phones being used for criminal purposes. RURA has warned that more than 900,000 mobile accounts could be threatened with closure under new regulations to limit the number of SIM cards per user to three for each of the country’s two networks.
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 2016 MTN began to resell kt Rwanda's 4G/LTE network (see Basics and KTRN). 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.
|24 hours||150 MB||500 RWF|
|500 MB||1,500 RWF|
|7 days||1 GB||3,000 RWF|
|3 GB||8,000 RWF|
|4 GB||10,000 RWF|
|30 days||5 GB||15,000 RWF|
|7 GB||20,000 RWF|
|13 GB||30,000 RWF|
|500 MB / day||30,000 RWF|
|1 GB / day||50,000 RWD|
|3 GB / day||120,000 RWF|
- APN: internet.mtn
- Website in English:http://www.mtn.co.rw/
Airtel-Tigo (merged from Tigo and 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: coverage map.
Airtel bought Tigo in 2017 and currently Tigo is merged with Airtel, the no. 2 and 3 networks to become the biggest network according to customer numbers with about 58% now under their new dual brand. They have slashed prices for the transition period.
SIM card is available in their Airtel and Tigo Distributor Shops (shop locator). Check balance by *131#, to recharge by voucher enter *130*<voucher PIN>#. Vouchers are available for 100-5000 RWF.
In 2017 Airtel-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 packs Edit
Default rate is lowered to 10 RWF per MB. They offer these promotional packages for the newly combined network on 2G and 3G:
|50 MB||24 hours||100 RWF|
|120 MB||200 RWF|
|500 MB||500 RWF|
|1.5 GB||1000 RWF|
|1 GB||7 days||1000 RWF|
|3 GB||2000 RWF|
|10 GB||5000 RWF|
|1.5 GB||30 days||2000 RWF|
|3.5 GB||3000 RWF|
|7 GB||5000 RWF|
|30 GB||10,000 RWF|
|65 GB||21,000 RWF|
|95 GB||30,000 RWF|
|125 GB||40,000 RWF|
Activation of data packs is by *255# and select 2. These packs above don't work on 4G/LTE.
4G/LTE bundles Edit
Airtel-Tigo also resells kt Rwanda'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 (B20). These bundles are offered:
|24 hours||100 MB||500 RWF|
|200 MB||900 RWF|
|1 GB||4,000 RWF|
|7 days||1 GB||6,000 RWF|
|3.5 GB||18,000 RWF|
|30 days||5 GB||30,000 RWF|
|7 GB||40,000 RWF|
|10 GB||55,000 RWF|
|15 GB||80,000 RWF|
|30 GB||120,000 RWF|
Activation of 4G packs is by *255# and select 2.
- APN: internet
- Website: https://www.airtel.co.rw/
kt Rwanda (KTRN - 4G/LTE-only SIMs) Edit
In 2013 the Government of Rwanda and kt entered into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with a Korean group to install a high-speed broadband network and expand the nation's online services capacity. kt Rwanda Networks was established to deliver universal broadband access based on 4G/LTE technology upon Rwanda’s national Fiber optic infrastructure and to manage the fixed-mobile converged infrastructure as the wholesale provider of high-speed mobile broadband, covering 95% of the population within 4 years: coverage map.
Resellers of the KTRN 4G/LTE network can offer competitive rates for data only SIMs (list of retailers). These SIMs can be found in Kigali at popular supermarkets (Simba, T2000), "4G Square" stores (Kigali Heights, downtown, etc), and at mall kiosks etc.
Unlimited packages are now available from most of the retail partners, mainly Internet Service providers (ISP), and are open for all new as well as existing subscribers with 4G enabled Smartphones.
|30 days||Basic||4,300 RWF|
|30 days||Standard||18,000 RWF|
|30 days||Premium||25,000 RWF|
Within the plans, there are Basic, Standard, and Premium grades which change the max speed cap and quality of streaming video (youtube, dailymotion, etc). Basic appears to be capped at 5 Mbit/s down/1.5 Mbit/s up overall, 512 kbit/s streaming. Standard and Premium caps appear to be 90-100 Mbit/s down/30 Mbit/s up, 2Mbit streaming for Standard, no cap for Premium.
Balance management for all of them is done via the KTE RWA app. For existing users dial #900* or download LTE RWA on App Store or Google Play to access to the packages.
They have also released some volume-based packs and time-based packs:
- Volume based:
- 1 GB for 24 hours: 800 RWF
- 1 GB for 30 days: 1500 RWF
- 3 GB for 30 days: 3250 RWF
- 5 GB for 30 days: 9000 RWF
- 10 GB for 30 days: 15,000 RWF
- 30 GB for 30 days: 35,000 RWF
- 50 GB for 30 days: 68,000 RWF
- 100 GB for 30 days: 130,000 RWF
- Time based:
- 500 MB per day for 30 days: 10,500 RWF
- 1 GB per day for 30 days, beyond @ 128 kbps: 21,000 RWF
- 3 GB per day for 30 days, beyond @ 256 kbps: 57,000 RWF
- 4 GB per day for 30 days, beyond @ 512 kbps: 75,000 RWF
More info Edit
- APN depends on reseller
- KTRN website: https://www.ktrn.rw