Prepaid Data SIM Card Wiki


There are currently three national mobile operators in Zambia:

  • MTN
  • Airtel
  • Zamtel

In Zambia the 3 major networks operate on following frequencies: 2G/GSM up to EDGE on 900 MHz, 3G/UMTS up to DC-HSPA on 2100 MHz and 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz (B3) and 2600 MHz (B7). Due to the low quality of landlines, prepaid SIMs are for most Zambians the only way to get internet access.

SIM registration[]

Since 2011 it's mandatory to register the SIM card. This means, you need to bring your passport and write down your hotel address. SIM card number and IMEI number will be recorded as well. To check the registration status of your SIM, dial *101#. A sample of a registration form can be found here. It's possible you may get approached to buy a pre-registered SIM card. This is illegal and the Zambian government is actively prosecuting those that sell pre-activated SIM cards. Also you may find your connection suddenly being disrupted, as the government is also actively encouraging the networks to switch off unregistered SIM cards. If the asking-price of a SIM card is without balance is more than K 5, this should treated with suspicion. More info about SIM registration: ZICTA

In 2019 it was announced that a biometric SIM card registration system will take in effect from January 2020 to minimize fraud. So from 2020, you need to be prepared to give fingerprints for identification in addition to your passport.

VoIP tax[]

Zambia introduced in 2018 an internet tax which levies phone calls done over the internet through Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. Applications like WhatsApp, Viber, Skype etc. are said to be affected. The internet phone call tax is being introduced to protect jobs in the telecoms sector since revenue from traditional calls is on a steep decline as VoIP calls increase. The cabinet gave its approval in 2018 to a K 0.30 daily levy which will apply to VoIP calls hoping to earn US$ 22 million each year.



MTN is the largest network in Zambia with 42% of the market. For data they claim download speeds of up to 42 Mbps. MTN started with rolling out its 4G/LTE network on 1800 MHz (B3) in 2014 and is available in Lusaka and some other larger population areas in Zambia (Coverage Map).


SIM cards are available at so-called MTN Connect Stores, of which there is one at Kenneth Kuanda International Airport in Lusaka and cost 5 K. Data-only SIM cards are available too.

Vouchers are available from the same stores as well in retail stores.

To top-up dial *113*<voucher code>#. To check your balance dial *114#. If you are roaming in other countries with MTN you can buy a local voucher and top up dialing *222*<voucher code>#.

The default plan activated is MTN Call per Second. Other call plans are available as well. The default rate for data in all these plans is K 1.05 per MB.

Data feature packages[]

MTN offers data bundles, that can be subscribed by dialing *335#. To receive settings send a blank message to 335. The user has the choice to select the validity for the data volume chosen and whether it should be a one-off or an auto-renewable bundle.

Data Daily Weekly Monthly 60 days
20 MB K 2
60 MB K 3
200 MB K 5
350 MB K 7
500 MB K 25
700 MB K 10
1.5 GB K 50
2.5 GB K 50
5 GB K 100
6 GB K 100
10 GB K 150
12 GB K 200
25 GB K 400
35 GB K 700
50 GB K 900
100 GB K 1500

Bundles for 3/6/12 months are also available.

MTN offers special data bundles for surfing in the weekend or at night. You can activate them by dialling *335#:

Volume Night





(24 hrs)

1.5 GB K 7.69
2 GB K 25
4.5 GB K 25.63 K 61.5
4 GB K 40
5 GB K 41

Social media[]

  • for Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia per app: daily: K 2.05, weekly: K 10.25, monthly: K 51.5
  • for WhatsApp: K 3.6, weekly: K 10.25, monthly: K 51.5
  • for all apps mentioned above: daily: K 5.13, weekly: K 25.63, monthly: K 107.63

Data roaming offers[]

Using their "Roam like home" plan, you can also surf for K2 per MB in 16 MTN networks in Africa and the Middle East: list of countries.

More Information[]



The Indian-based company Bharti-Airtel took over activities from Celtel and Zain and is now #2 with 40% market share in the country close behind MTN. Airtel is present in all the 72 districts of Zambia with 200 towers all carrying what they call a 3.75G network: coverage map.

Having initially introduced 4G/LTE services in the Copperbelt in 2017, Airtel Zambia official launched of its LTE network in the nation’s capital Lusaka. It has also revamped its entire range of data bundles to coincide with the latest launch announcement.


SIM cards are available in their stores of which there is one at the arrivals at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. A SIM will cost K5. Airtel is now offering 1 GB of data free to all those that do upgrade to an LTE-compatible SIM.

Top-up vouchers are available from retail stores. To top up, dial *113*<voucher code>#, to check your balance, dial *114#.

Data feature packs []

The standard rate for data is K1 per MB. Data plans can be activated by dialling *575# or *121#. If a data plan is active, data will be charged at K0.65 per MB in the remaining validity period once the allowance has been used. Following data packages are available:

Data Time Price
20 MB 1 day K 2
60 MB K 3
200 MB K 5
350 MB K 7
700 MB K 10
2 GB K 25
1 GB 7 days K 25
2.5 GB K 50
6 GB K 100
10 GB K 150
1.5 GB 30 days K 50
5 GB K 100
12 GB K 250
25 GB K 400
35 GB 60 days K 700
50 GB 90 days K 900
100 GB K 1,500

They offer a double volume bonus to all bundles. But bonus data are only valid for 1 hour after subscription. So for example for K 10.3 you get 100 MB for 1 hour and another 100 MB for 24 hours.

Social media bundles[]

Social bundles allow either access to Facebook only or to Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, their VoIP will however be charged at standard data rate or charged to the data package. To activate a social plan dial *575*3#. Following bundles are available:


1 day 7 days 30 days
WhatsApp only K 3 K 10 K 50
Facebook only K 2 K 10 K 50
Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter K K 25 K 100

More information[]


Zamtel ZM-Logo

Zamtel launched its GSM services in 2003 and is government-owned. It's the smallest operator with 16% of the market in Zambia and is reported to also be the least customer oriented.

They launched 4G/LTE in 2014 in Kitwe only on 2600 MHz (B7) and current coverage of 4G/LTE beyond Kitwe is not known as coverage maps are not available. The operator said it has deployed LTE sites in Kitwe, Chingola, Mufulira, Chambishi, Lufwanyama, Chililabombwe and Kalulushi, including the border town of Kasumbalesa. On OpenSignal maps, it's almost non-existant.


The SIM cards are available from the Zamtel outlets, and should not cost more than 5 Kwacha. Topping up and checking your balance occurs by dialing *113#. Top-up vouchers are available starting K 2 and up from various places. Online Top-up is not available, you may need to use an external online top-up provider to keep your number alive.

Combo plans[]

The Real Mahala plan is available to prepaid subscribers including data, on-net calls and unlimted on-net text messages. To subscribe, unsubscribe and to check allowance dial *335#. The Mahala plan comes in 3 sizes with the smallest also availabe for all-net calls

  • K 3: 100 MB of data, 60 minutes on-net calls and unlimited on-net texting or 100 MB of data, 100 all-net texting and 11 minutes to all networks
  • K 7: 100 MB of data, 100 minutes on-net calls and unlimited on-net texting
  • K 100: 1 GB of data, 2000 minutes on-net calls and unlimited on-net texting

Data feature packs[]

The standard rate is K 0.96 per MB. Following data bundles are available:

Data 24 hours 7 days 30 days 60 days 90 days Night
50 MB K 1
100 MB K 2
300 MB K 3
500 MB K 5 K 5
1 GB K 7 4.61 K
1.5 GB K 10 K 35
2 GB K 15 9.23 K
2.5 GB K 25
5 GB K 100 36.9 K
6 GB K 70
10 GB K 105 K 175 K 350
20 GB K 1,050

To select a data bundle, dial *355#. When exceeding the bundle the accompanying pro-rata rate will be deducted during the remainder days. Night bundles are valid 10.30pm-5.30am.

Social media bundles[]

For WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram without using your internet balance, dial *325#

  • daily:
    • 40 on-net mins, 75 MB, 100 on-net SMS: K 5
    • 70 on-net mins, 75 MB, 100 on-net SMS: K 7
    • 95 on-net mins, 100 MB, 150 on-net SMS: K 10
  • weekly:
    • 230 on-net mins, 150 MB, 500 on-net SMS: K 32
    • 300 on-net mins, 200 MB, 500 on-net SMS: K 42
    • 390 on-net mins, 300 MB, 500 on-net SMS: K 60
  • monthly:
    • 750 on-net mins, 500 MB, 1000 on-net SMS: K 120
    • 950 on-net mins, 500 MB, 1000 on-net SMS: K 168
    • 1,600 on-net mins, 500 MB, 1000 on-net SMS: K 240

More information[]

Vodafone Zambia[]


In 2016 Airspan Networks has started using the Vodafone brand, a joint venture between UK telecoms giant Vodafone and sub-Saharan Africa 4G operator Afrimax Group. They only provided data through their rather limited 4G/LTE network on TD-LTE band 40 of 2300 MHz: coverage map.

Vodacom Group which trades in Zambia as Vodafone announced the sale of its business unit operations in Zambia, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire to Andile Ngcaba’s Synergy Communications in 2019