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The biggest mobile communication companies in South Africa

In this article, we set out to provide useful information to those looking to visit South Africa.

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Are you worried about staying in touch while visiting South Africa? South Africa is Africa’s biggest economy. There is no need to fret, therefore, about staying connected with friends and family back home while enjoying the many scenic holiday destinations that the country has to offer.

For those visiting the country, one of the first things that you will have to do is buy a mobile SIM card. You have the following options in this regard; 


Vodacom is the biggest mobile communication company in South Africa. It boasts of a subscriber base of over 42 million. In monetary terms, Vodacom is worth about $14 billion. So, this is a huge company. 

It’s worth noting that Vodacom’s tentacles span the length and breadth of the African continent. The company also has operations in the DRC, Mozambique, Lesotho, Tanzania, Cameroon, and Nigeria, among other countries. 


In terms of subscriber numbers, MTN is the second-largest mobile communications company in South Africa. As of 2019, the company had over 30 million subscribers. Like Vodacom, MTN has operations in many other African countries. In fact, MTN is bigger than Vodacom when one looks at Africa as a whole. 

Cell C

Cell C is the third largest mobile communications company in the country. As of 2019, the company had 9.7 million users. Cell C is a great company, offering highly competitive rates. That’s the major attraction for this company. 


Telkom mobile is an offshoot of Telkom South Africa, the biggest fixed telephone company in the country. They are a relatively new kid on the block, having been launched in October 2010. 

The company has however been growing in leaps and bounds over the past few years. Driving this growth are the competitive tariffs offered by the company. 

In fact, a lot of people have been moving from the other networks to Telkom. Please note that South Africa allows for what is called number porting. It means you can change your network operator while keeping your number. 

Where can I buy a mobile SIM card in South Africa? 

Mobile SIM cards are sold literally everywhere in South Africa. You will find them being sold around the corner, at the airport, at service stations and elsewhere. Each of the network operators in the country also has numerous franchise shops in which you can buy and register your SIM card. 


All mobile SIM cards need to be registered in South Africa. In some instances, registration can be done online or over the phone. However, it’s much better for you as a tourist to register your SIM card at a nearest mobile shop for your chosen operator. To get registered, you need to have the following; 

  • Your passport
  • Your address

How do these companies perform in terms of the internet? 

Today, calling has actually become a secondary function when it comes to the use of cell phones. Most people use theirs primarily for internet connectivity. If you are visiting South Africa on holiday, you want to be able to stay in touch with friends and family back home using such applications as WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom and many more. Additionally, as many companies and schools have embraced remote work, you may be the kind of person who needs to stay connected to your company or online courses. So, how do South Africa’s mobile communication companies perform in terms of internet connectivity? 

Internet speeds are good

Again, we need to point out that South Africa is Africa’s biggest economy. Services in the country are actually very good. That includes mobile broadband services. You don’t have to worry about having to deal with low internet speeds while visiting the country. At the moment, over 12 million people use the internet in South Africa. Most of these get connected using mobile devices. 

Most operators now offer 5G

Most of South Africa’s mobile network operators now offer 5G. Though 5G was launched in the country in 2020, companies have been scrambling to stay ahead of the pack. So, you will be covered while in major towns and cities. 


In this article, we set out to provide useful information to those looking to visit South Africa. We know, Covid 19 has put a damper on tourism, but there is seemingly a ray of light at the end of the tunnel. With much of the world now getting vaccinated, it’s possible that the world will soon open up as it was before. 

We noted in the article that if you plan to visit South Africa, you have the option to buy a local SIM card for use when making calls and browsing through the internet. That’s actually cheaper than roaming. In terms of the choices that you have, Vodacom is the biggest player on the market. You probably won’t go wrong with this company. 

Other choices include MTN, Cell C and Telkom mobile. These companies are all good for the internet and calling. One thing to note is that connectivity can be patchy away from the main towns and cities. But all the major tourist destinations are covered. You can learn more about internet connectivity in South Africa at SA Broadband.

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Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

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