Best Sim Cards for Nigeria

A Nigerian connected to his mobile device

Photo Credit - Kamaji Ogino

If you've ever been caught up in the active nightlife of Portharcourt, fully immersed in nature in the Omo forestry reserve in Lagos, or just cooling down in the Jabi lake in Abuja, you may be unable to fully picture why Nigeria is rated the 7th most populous country in the world.

Her size has made her a gold mine because of the huge market she controls, and as the largest economy in Africa, she continues to attract an increasing number of foreign investments annually.

Amongst businesses taking advantage of this is the telecommunications industry.  They not only offer services to locals but they also try to penetrate the tourism sector and offer mobile connectivity services to travelers and tourists alike.


In this reading, I'll take you through the best sim cards in Nigeria and recommendations to guide you through making a good choice without breaking the bank, especially as a visitor to Nigeria. 

As a traveler, I know an exciting part of the experience is sharing your fun moments on the internet, but that fun can very quickly turn to worry as you see the phone bills piling up in the thousands. Yes, roaming fees can be expensive, and one way to jump this hurdle is to use local sim cards so you can enjoy local rates.

Nigeria is one of the African countries with the lowest mobile data rates. For example, you can get a Nigerian sim card for as low as $1 in any of the four mobile operators' official stores in the country, MTN, Airtel, Glo Mobile & 9mobile. 1 GB valid for 7 days costing between $1 and $1.5.

But before you get all excited about the 'outrageously' low prices and grab yourself a Nigerian sim card, there's more you should know. First, Nigeria has four 4G/LTE-only operators - NTel, Spectranet, Smile Nigeria, and Swift. The coverage of these four operators is minimal, thus, may not be a useful option for travelers because they are mainly for mobile broadband at home.

Ntel could have been a better option due to its national roaming agreements with one of the big four operators but is prominent for its 2G and 3G roaming agreement with 9mobile. Overall, these operators are not recommended for travelers unless you will be staying in a location where they have great coverage, or if you live in Nigeria and are looking for mobile broadband. 

However, the emergence of eSims has had travelers heaving a sigh of relief. How? It allows frequent travelers to stay connected no matter how much they are on the move and at cheaper local rates. 

eSim Operators in Nigeria

The first mobile network to launch e-SIM in Nigeria was MTN, in July 2020. Shortly after, in August 2020, 9mobile also launched its e-SIM service. To activate any of these e-Sims you need to have a e-Sim-compatible phone and visit your mobile operator’s service center to request an e-SIM. You can activate it on a new line, or swap your existing line.

For travelers on the go, hunting down local stores may not be ideal. The recommended  e-Sim store to get your travel connectivity solution across Africa right from your phone is Afrosim. Afrosim is so far the only provider specific to African destinations and can be activated in three simple steps right from your mobile device. Buy. . .Activate. . .and Use. With Afrosim, there's no need to visit a physical office to get activated. In addition, your e-Sim profile can be used on multiple devices, one phone at a time.

e-Sim Compatible Phones in Nigeria

At the time of writing this, e-Sim iOS is available in premium high-end devices like:

  • Apple iPhone XS and newer models
  • Google Pixel 2 and newer models
  • Samsung Galaxy S-series from S20
  • Samsung Galaxy Note series from Note20
  • Samsung Gear watches
  • Samsung Galaxy Z and Galaxy Fold devices

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