Giraffe sign in Namibia
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Buying a SIM Card or eSIM in Namibia

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Namibia is a spectacular country to travel in.

Whether it’s the animals crowded around waterholes in Etosha National Park, endless towering sand dunes at Sossusvlei, a town being reclaimed by the desert in Kolmanskop, or the exceptional seafood in Swakupmond, it’s a richly-rewarding destination wherever your interests lie.

It’s also a vast, sparsely-populated area, and has cell coverage to match. While you’ll pay very little to stay connected and the process is straightforward, don’t expect much in the way of fast or consistent data service outside major centres.

Here’s everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in Namibia.


  • I recommend MTC for most travelers who want a physical SIM
  • An eSIM from Airalo is the best option if you only need data

There are only two cell service providers in Namibia. MTC and TN Mobile have very similar prices, but MTC has better coverage, which made the decision about which one to buy pretty straightforward.

Notice that I said better, not good. 🙂

Travel eSIM for Namibia

Unless your phone can’t take a physical SIM, there’s not much point using a travel eSIM. Much as I prefer them elsewhere in the world, there are very few options for Namibia, and those that do exist are pretty expensive.

Given how easy it is to buy a SIM card at the airport (at the standard price, no less), even get the usual benefit of being connected immediately isn’t worth that much here.

If you did want (or need) to buy one anyway, though, the only company I’ve found that offers service in Namibia and that I’d recommend using is Airalo.

Like most travel eSIMs, it’s data-only: you don’t get a local number. I use apps for everything from communication to transport these days, so the lack of a local number very rarely matters to me, but you might have different needs.

If you’re new to eSIMs, they offer big benefits to travelers in terms of how quickly, easily, and (often) cheaply you can get connected when you arrive in a new country. Most recent phones support them, and you can read all about them here.

How to Buy a Prepaid SIM Card in Namibia

MTC has a store in the small arrivals hall at Windhoek airport, on your left as you exit. It’s open for all international arrivals, so if you’re flying into Namibia, this is the easiest place to pick up a SIM.

Photo of the entrance of the MTC store at Windhoek airport. A vending machine sits just outside the entranceway, with several people visible inside.

If you’re not flying in, or are short of time when you first arrive, SIMs are available at MTC “Mobile Home” stores in Windhoek, Swakopmund, and any other town of a reasonable size throughout the country. They’re also often available at gas stations and supermarkets.

In either case, the process is the same. First, buy your SIM (in whatever size you require) from a staff member, and put it in your phone.

Each MTC store also has a touchscreen kiosk, and that’s where you’ll top up your new SIM. You can either buy a specific package, or top up with as much credit as you need and send a code to activate the package you’re after.

Since the machine at the airport was out of the package I wanted, I went with the second option. A helpful staff member was on hand to explain the process and walk me through it, but it wasn’t difficult. I just needed my phone number to do it, which was printed on the SIM packet.

Note that the machine doesn’t give change, so you might need to break a larger banknote first. There are several places to do so nearby at the airport.

Prepaid SIM and eSIM Costs


Prices are extremely low. The SIM itself cost 7 NAD (~$0.40 USD), and the “Aweh YoData M” package I picked cost 45 NAD (~$2.50). Those prices include the 15% sales tax, which is typically only shown in the fine print on the advertising material.

This package lasted a week, and gave 60 minutes of local calls, 60 texts, and 2GB of data. A promotion at the time gave an extra 300MB of data,.

Note there’s no warning when the package expires, and you can’t renew it beforehand. It lasts until the end of the seventh day after activation.

Since I didn’t know where I’d be at that time, I added enough extra credit to renew for a second week, which covered my time in the country. Adding the package was as simple as dialing *682#.

There are many other bundles available, some focused on calls and texts, others on data. Due to the coverage limitations mentioned below, though, you’ll probably use less data than usual unless you’re spending a lot of time near towns and cities.

Full details and the list of options can be found here or instore.


If you do want to go with a travel eSIM, there are very few companies with service in Namibia. We’ve compared many of the companies in the past, but at time of writing, only Airalo had something to offer here and it wasn’t cheap.

Validity Period

  • 7 days

  • 15 days

  • 30 days

  • 30 days

Data Amount

  • 1 GB

  • 2 GB

  • 3 GB

  • 5 GB

Price (USD)

  • $0 (out of stock)

  • $0 (out of stock)

  • $0 (out of stock)

  • $0 (out of stock)

Topping Up

You can top up using the kiosk at any MTC store, or from a wide range of stores and street vendors who will sell you a voucher for the appropriate amount of credit. Just look out for the MTC logo.

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Coverage and Data Speeds

Namibia, more than most other countries I’ve visited, has very different levels of cell coverage depending on where you are.

In Windhoek, Swakopmund, Luderitz, and several other large towns, LTE coverage was available and reasonably fast, at least for downloads. 3G was more widespread: I’d often find it in smaller towns, and on the “B” roads between them.

Outside those places, though, the best I could hope for was 2G/EDGE speeds.  Namibia is a vast country, so that means there was slow, or no, data most of the time I was behind the wheel. If I was staying somewhere remote, chances are there’d be no service there either.

Call and text service is more widespread, but even then, it’s not available everywhere. The longest I went without any signal was about a day, driving from Sossusvlei to Luderitz (with an overnight stop). It was also patchy in Etosha National Park, available near the camps but not elsewhere.

Wi-Fi is likewise available and reasonably quick in towns, and less so outside them.

If you’re driving around Namibia and planning on using Google Maps for navigation, I’d strongly suggest saving offline maps for as much of the country as you need before you go.

Screenshot showing "Network communication issues"
What to expect in most of Namibia

Check out our guides to SIM cards and eSIMs in 65+ other countries here.

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  1. Hi David. Thanks for the great article. I just have a couple of questions about renewing. When you say renewing, do you mean that you are purchasing another bundle of the AwehGig bundle after the first 7 days have expired?

    Also, to renew did you just text #AwehGig# to 134 again?

    1. Yep, that’s exactly what I did. When I bought the SIM at the airport, I made sure I had enough credit loaded to cover me for the second week, then when the first week was up, I texted #AwehGig# to 134 again.

      The only thing I’d add is that if you’re doing it that way (rather than going and buying more credit after the first package expires), make sure you turn your data connection off the night before, so it doesn’t switch to casual rate overnight and use up the credit you loaded before. I think it expires at midnight, although it’s hard to tell, since I never got a text to tell me.

      1. Got it! Thank you for the info and advice.

  2. Great information. I was staying in Windhoek at the Hilton and was able to buy the MTC SIM card in the hotel gift shop. I don’t remember what I paid for it though.

    I am new to buying SIM cards in the countries I travel to and use a little “world phone” with a keyboard. I would like to use my iPhone. Do you have an article on using the iPhone? Do my messages, email, iCloud and all the other stuff still work with a SIM in another country?

    1. We don’t have an article specifically on using an iPhone with local SIM cards, because there’s little to no difference for iPhones vs other devices. Basically, once you swap your SIMs, you won’t receive calls or texts to your original number until you put your SIM from home back in. You’ll have a local number instead, and anything that uses data (email, iCloud, iMessages, WhatsApp, etc) should carry on as usual.

      I say should, because there can be occasional glitches, especially with iMessage. If it affects you, we devoted a piece to dealing with that particular problem here.

  3. Thanks! I find little snippets about things but that answers all my questions in one place.

  4. Hi Dave thanks for article, just a small question. The credit i need for activating #AwehGig# i can buy at the store and it will be added on the SIM card and once the first package expires i will just text for another one which is pay from to credit on SIM right?

    Thanks Lukas

      1. What about the international calls? are they blocked or you just need more credit?

      2. You just need more credit. Skype Calling is also an option, although data speeds will be too slow for it outside the major towns and cities.

  5. Thanks for the article, I’ll be going soon and this explained a lot! I hope you have more articles on Namibia for me to check out. Best wishes.

  6. Big thx for the info, but I think there’s a little mistake in your text, you state “Those prices include the 15% sales tax”, but I think it should say “exclusive 15% sales tax” because I found this info on the MTC website: “Only N$32.00 (Excl 15% VAT) per week.”

    1. No, no mistake. I said it was $35 NAD including tax, which is the same as $32 + tax.

  7. Thanks for this great info! Two questions: I’m coming to Namibia in August and would like to buy a SIM to use in an old Nokia dumbphone. I won’t need any data because it has no internet capability. Are there any data-free packages available? (That said, it seems like the packages are cheap enough that I won’t really mind buying the data and just not using it).

    Also, on these plans, are texts to international numbers much more expensive than texts to local numbers?

    1. Check out this link (it’s in the post as well) for the range of packages. There’s a ‘build your own’ option called Aweh O-Yeah (who comes up with these names?), and one called Aweh Go that has 50 minutes of national calls, 150 national texts, and a little bit of data, for around $1 USD.

      This page gives international text rates. For most countries outside southern Africa, it’s around 7c USD per text, so pretty cheap.

  8. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the great info. At the moment, I refer to your site a lot as I’m currently on a mission to run over 3000km of beach across 184 countries in support of survivors of sexual violence. It’s called Footsteps To Inspire. Just arrived in country 27 – Namibia.
    I wanted to give you a heads up that the MTC store is no longer in Windhoek International Airport (only the TN store). You may like to update your blog.

    Keep up the awesome posts and thanks again,

    1. Thanks Claire! I contacted MTC about this, and they said the following:

      “Hi Dave. Our mobile home at the Hosea Kutako International Airport is currently under renovation, however we do have a mobile van parked outside where customers can be be assisted.”

      So, for anyone arriving at Windhoek Airport, if you don’t see the MTC store or it hasn’t reopened yet, head outside and you should be able to get your SIM sorted!

  9. Avatar Kristine Kruger says:

    Hi Dave,
    Thank you for the information. I still have my sim and I live in Cape Town. It is going to expire 30/11/17, but I will be back in Windhoek on 13/12/17 only. Is there any way of extending the validity of the card while I am in Cape Town? Do I have to top it up? I still have N$94 airtime on it.

    1. Hmm. If your SIM is due to expire at the end of November, you may indeed need to top it up to keep it going, but you may just need some kind of ‘activity.’ Assuming you have an MTC SIM, you could try texting #Tango Per Second# to number 134, and see what happens — the idea is that it would put you on to a pure pay-per-second plan. At that point, just send a text to any Namibian number (maybe even including your own), and there’s your ‘activity.’

      I don’t know any of that for sure, though. MTC does have a Facebook page that you can message them through, and they do respond eventually. If you’re not with MTC, the provider you’re using may have something similar on offer.

  10. Does your phone have to be “unlocked” to function with the new SIM in it? I have an iPhone from AT&T but not sure it will allow me to use it with a SIM not from AT&T while in Namibia.
    Does MTC sell some basic “smartphones” (able to use Google Maps or something similar?) that you can purchase with the SIM? Any idea about the cost for those?

    1. It does need to be unlocked, yes, so you’ll need to check whether you can do that here.

      If not, a quick poke around the MTC site showed that they had a Samsung A3 (which would be totally fine for basic use) that costs just under the equivalent of $100 USD online. Whether they sell that specific model at the airport store or at what price, though, I couldn’t say.

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