Network coverage in Nigeria


When travelling to Nigeria is it better to activate international roaming or should you purchase a prepaid sim card from a local operator? Melissa Jane Cook investigates what options are available to business travellers.

Nigeria has expanded its network coverage to allow numerous providers the opportunity to flourish and surge forward in the technological journey of communication. For the business traveller, who needs constant updates from around the world and the need to be in the ‘know’ at all times, it is essential that before travelling all cellular options are made available so an informed decision can be made .

The prepaid option

One of the options is to purchase a prepaid sim card, which more often than not is cheaper, more efficient and hassle free. Funmilayo Omogbenigun, General Manager of Corporate Communications MTN Nigeria, has advised that, just like in SA, all sim cards must be registered within a month of purchase. This is not to suggest that availability would be restricted, but the purchase procedure would be more structured. These cards can easily be purchased in the country of your destination – in this case Nigeria, inserted into your phone and, voila!, you are connected.

Comfort Omeziem, Marketing & Strategy for MTN Nigeria says:  “Nigeria, in fact has the largest prepaid customer base in Africa.” The business traveller can access the internet through these prepaid cards, but for some international networks subscribers may need to request that service before they leave their home countries.

International Roaming

Activating one’s mobile phone to international roaming is another option the business traveller can consider.  Omeziem suggests that before departure the traveller should  find out whether his/her phone will work in Nigeria (i.e. if his/her network has a roaming agreement with MTN Nigeria) and, if so, activate the roaming access function that would allow him/her to make and receive calls. For some, the convenience is having your own number with your contacts readily available. When high charges are not an issue this international roaming option is preferable.

However, for others the cost factor plays an important part and therefore a prepaid sim affords you the knowledge of how much you are spending, knowing it is reliable and that it is a cheaper medium. 

Offering wide coverage

According to Omogbenigu, MTN Nigeria has the widest coverage of all the telecommunications companies in Nigeria- within every state, every local government area, every major town and hundreds of villages. Therefore the signal and quality of service is very good. The head offices of MTN are in Lagos and MTN has a presence in every city in Nigeria.

The universal option

Mike Gray, Regional President of Uniglobe Travel (sub-Saharan Africa), believes that a prepaid sim card is cheaper than roaming and that the business traveller should consider WorldSIM as a solution. The advantages of WorldSIM are free roaming in over 60 countries; coverage in over 150 countries; no line rental; no contract and it supports voice, sms and data. WorldSIM is a prepaid mobile phone service that allows you to use your mobile phone while travelling in Nigeria without incurring expensive roaming, calling or texting charges. When credit runs low, travellers can simply top up their account using the automated and instant top-up service, from anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day.

Service providers:


With MTN you can stay connected with the world while travelling in Nigeria. MTN Nigeria has partnered with more than 382 networks in 153 countries to ensure you keep in touch everywhere you go. MTN has an established office in Nigeria and as such business travellers have 24-hour support and the familiarity of superb service which they are used to at home. MTN offers both prepaid sim cards and the immediate activation of your roaming on your contract.

Vodacom & Cell C

These services offer international roaming in Nigeria.

Nigerian local providers

Glomobil, Zain and Etisalat are all local cellular operators based in Nigeria. They all offer a prepaid option for the business traveller in Nigeria.


The rates:


Call in Nigeria

SMS in Nigeria

Call to SA

Receive a call






Glo Mobil










Etisalat EMTS










 How to choose:

Omeziem recommends the following key points to remember when making your decision:

*The duration of your stay – if you plan on a short stay, then you can consider roaming in Nigeria.

*The critical nature of the business- if your number is a hotline for consultation, one has no choice but to keep your line open either for a long or short trip.

*Your job position- most organisations have top executives roam their lines to keep in touch while on the move.