Planning your trip to Uganda and wondering what is the best way to stay connected and not get stuck with high roaming charges or slow overseas data roaming plans? This is the ultimate guide for finding the best sim card for traveling to Uganda in 2024.

Find out everything you need to know about buying a prepaid sim card in Uganda, where to buy a sim card, the best e-sim cards for Uganda, up to date prices as per June 2024, best 4G/5G network in Uganda, my recommendation and experiences, information about international sim cards for Uganda and more.

Depending on the length of your trip to Uganda a prepaid sim card or an e-sim card is the best way to stay connected and save money on high roaming charges. One of the first things when planning my next trip abroad is figuring out what is the best way to stay connected and whether to order an e-sim card or buying a local prepaid sim card on arrival.

Having internet on your phone while traveling makes life so much easier. In the past I always used to buy a prepaid sim card on arrival but nowadays I mostly order an e-sim card on the internet.

E-sim cards are simply so convenient that I happily pay a couple dollar extra to be online as soon as the plane lands and have internet on my phone like at home without paying high roaming charges.

As Traveltomtom is on a mission to travel to every country in the world I get to about 30 - 40 different countries every year and therefore I use about 30 different sim cards per year. As I am already traveling full time since 2012 buying prepaid and e-sim cards became part of life and that is how Traveltomtom became the ultimate specialist in providing info about sim cards for tourists.

Traveltomtom is aiming to travel to every country in the world and as I like to document all my travel tips you can already find more than 200 sim card guides on Traveltomtom from all over the world: Rwanda, Kigali, BurundiEthiopiaKenya, Tanzania, ZambiaSouth Africa, CameroonDubai, Istanbul, United Kingdom, USA, New York, London, Paris, Cameroon, Gabon, Hong Kong and many more.

Here is my friend Sean who tried buying an Airtel sim card on arrival that time I traveled to Uganda overland, but then the system was down. Read more about my experiences buying a sim card in Uganda at the end of this blog.

Flying to Kampala and arriving at Entebbe Airport? Then check out my guide for buying a sim card at Entebbe Airport. Prices are pretty much the same as anywhere else in Uganda so getting your prepaid sim card at Entebbe Airport is easy and convenient straight on arrival.

So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid and e-sim card advice for your next holiday destination. Bookmark me and let me help you save money!

RELATED: 23 Best Things To Do in Kampala in 2024.

Some links in this article about the best prepaid sim cards for traveling to Uganda are affiliate links. If you buy any of the products after using an affiliate link I earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you.

My recommendation

Based on my research and my own travel experiences in Uganda Traveltomtom recommends an Airtel sim card for traveling to Uganda. For about $9 USD you get 9 GB data.

Traveltomtom surely recommends e-sim cards for traveling to Uganda. It is super easy to order one on the internet but it is no secret that e-sims are more expensive than local prepaid sim cards.

Traveltomtom always recommends getting an e-sim with at least 1 GB data to start with so that when you land in Uganda you instantly have internet on your phone. Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for Uganda via either SimOptions or Airalo.

There are also great international sim cards for traveling to Africa. In my article about the best world sim cards for traveling in 2024 you can find my comparison of all international sim cards that are valid in up to 141 countries around the world.

Best e-sim cards for Uganda

The easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Uganda in 2024 is an e-sim card. You arrange everything online in just a couple clicks. No more visiting a phone store and swapping physical prepaid sim cards.

You order an e-sim card for Uganda on the internet, you receive a QR code, scan it, follow the simple steps and within less than 2 minutes you have a Uganda e-sim card installed on your phone.

Upon arrival in Uganda it automatically connects you to an available network and you enjoy data on your phone pretty much when the plane lands.

Make sure your phone is e-sim compatible before ordering an e-sim card for Uganda.

Airalo

airalo esim card plans for uganda 2024

Airalo is a trusted and reliable e-sim provider that offers e-sim cards from pretty much every country in the world. Here are the Airalo e-sim card plans for Uganda for 2024:

  • 1 GB data for 7 days = $7 USD
  • 2 GB data for 15 days = $13 USD
  • 3 GB data for 30 days = $17.5 USD
  • 5 GB data for 30 days = $27 USD
  • 10 GB data for 30 days = $49 USD

Click here for more info or to order an e-sim card for Uganda via Airalo.

These Uganda e-sim cards are from Ugish! and they operate on the 4G/LTE networks of Airtel. The Ugish! e-sim cards are data-only and they do not support incoming or outgoing calls/sms. Data is only valid in Uganda.

SimOptions

simoptions esim cards for uganda 2024

SimOptions is another reliable e-sim provider and Traveltomtom has used SimOptions in more than 50 countries around the world and never faced an issue. SimOptions offers international e-sim cards for traveling to Uganda. These e-sim cards are valid in up to 141 countries around the world.

  • 3 GB data for 30 days = $24.90 USD
  • 5 GB data for 30 days = $34.90 USD
  • 6 GB data for 15 days = $39.90 USD
  • 10 GB data for 14 days = $39.90 USD

Click here to order an international e-sim card for Uganda from SimOptions.

Before ordering an e-sim card for Uganda make sure your phone is e-sim compatible otherwise an e-sim card won't work on your phone.

Traveltomtom also tried and tested another e-sim provider called Nomad. Although they sometimes have amazing e-sim card deals it is not Traveltomtom's first recommendation. Personally I faced some reliability and performance issues with Nomad and was not 100% happy with my e-sim. So for now Nomad will need to work on their performance before getting recommended again by Traveltomtom.

Why buying a sim card for Uganda

First of all it makes traveling so much easier, more convenient and even safer when you have a working data connection on your phone. Use taxi apps, find directions, restaurants, hotels, etc. on Google Maps, use translation apps, check your banking apps and so on.

If you have read my blog posts with everything you need to know when traveling to Uganda in 2024, you also know that WiFi in Uganda is NOT reliable and very slow. Don’t rely on WiFi, buying a sim card in Uganda is easy and cheap and above all a local prepaid sim card for Uganda makes you save a lot of money on expensive roaming charges.

Also another reminder that public WiFi is through an unsecured network, the use of a VPN is recommended.

Mobile internet operators in Uganda

For a long time there were 3 main mobile internet operators in Uganda, but now there are 4:

  • MTN
  • Airtel
  • Africell
  • Lycamobile

In 2020 a new competitor entered the Uganda sim card market: Lycamobile. This UK based brand is expanding its services to Africa. In Europe, Lycamobile is operating as a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator), but in Uganda they actually have a full NTO (National Telecommunications Operator) license. This means Lycamobile operates on its own network.

All mobile internet providers in Uganda sell prepaid sim cards for tourists. Prices are pretty similar, the big difference is the 4G/5G mobile network coverage. More about that later.

There are no e-sims for tourists available in Uganda as of June 2024, only prepaid physical sim cards are available for tourists in Uganda.

Where to buy a Uganda sim card

When arriving by plane in Uganda the best place to buy a sim card is at Entebbe International Airport. Click on the link to read my extensive sim card guide for Entebbe Airport. If for some reason you couldn’t buy a sim card for Uganda at the airport or you are traveling overland then I recommend you to go to one of the mobile internet providers service centers.

Everywhere on the side of the streets you will see kiosk of the mobile internet providers, however not every shop sells sim cards for tourists. Since every sim card needs to be registered with your passport and an official photo not every kiosk is able to sign you up.

The mobile internet shops have so called service centers and only at these places tourists can buy prepaid sim cards.

Buying a Lycamobile sim card in Uganda is a little more difficult as there are not that many Lycamobile retailers yet. For example at Entebbe Airport and in Entebbe I did not see any Lycamobile retailers, neither throughout the country. I only found Lycamobile retailers in Kampala city center.

RELATED: 33 Things to Know When Traveling to Uganda!

Sim card registration in Uganda

uganda sim card

Buying a sim card in Uganda is serious business. Every prepaid sim card will be registered on your name with your passport. A photo of your passport will be taken as well as a photo of you while holding the sim card next to your face. No joke! :)

The sim card registration in Uganda is very official and there is no way around. You have to first fill out a form, then your fingerprint is taken, then your passport is registered, then the photo session then it finally gets activated.

Therefore when buying a sim card in Uganda allow yourself a little time. Welcome to Africa! :)

To avoid losing time on your Uganda holiday you might want to look into ordering an e-sim card for Uganda. You arrange everything online in just a couple clicks and there is no ID verification needed. Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for Uganda via either SimOptions or Airalo.

When registering the sim card you need to create a PIN number and with every transaction like a top up for a new data bundle you will need to confirm with your personal PIN, so don’t forget it!

If you want to avoid this then Traveltomtom recommends you to order a prepaid sim card or an e-sim card for Uganda online. Online sim cards do NOT require registration, you just need your email address.

Social Media Tax (OTT)

Mobile internet in Uganda is at times restricted and regulated, depending on the regulations of the government. The best example is that on the day of National election in Uganda on January 13th 2021 there was NO INTERNET ACCESS country wide.

Although a major resistance against a proposed social media tax, the government pushed through the controversial social media tax called OTT. Whenever you want to use social media apps in Uganda you have to pay an additional tax. For tourists this is just a couple cents, but for Ugandans this can be a lot of money.

Good news is that since 2023 the Social Media Tax, the so called OTT is gone! However, instead they now tax data bundles with an extra tax. Data plans and internet packages are slightly more expensive these days, but nothing really to worry about for tourists as data bundles in Uganda are cheap anyway.

Facebook is blocked in Uganda

For a long time Instagram and Facebook were blocked in Uganda. Since the beginning of 2021 due to a dispute between the Uganda government and Facebook the apps could not be accessed through a Uganda mobile internet connection. Although reports in 2023 said that things have been restored, Facebook and Instagram are still officially blocked.

At a conference in January 2024 the Ugandan minister of ICT said the Ugandan government is in talks with Facebook to lift the ban. To be continued... 

Use of VPN in Uganda

Officially it is forbidden by law to use a VPN in Uganda. That said pretty much all young people in Uganda are using a VPN. In phone shops in Uganda they even advice you about good VPN's to use. Since Facebook and Instagram are officially still blocked the use of a VPN is recommended, also for the protection of your data.

Prices Uganda prepaid sim cards in 2024

The info and prices beelow for prepaid sim cards and data packages and bundles in Uganda are up to date as per June 2024. Prices are in Ugandan Schilling: $1 USD = 3,800 UGX and 10,000 UGX = $2.63 USD.

As of June 2024 tourists can only get physical prepaid sim cards, there are still no e-sim cards for tourists available.

Africell Uganda

africell sim card uganda

A prepaid sim card from Africell costs 2,000 UGX, about $0.5 USD and comes with a little bit of credit. You will need to add credit to your account to add data bundles.

These are the most common Africell data bundles:

  • 15,000 UGX = 4.5 GB data for 1 week - $4 USD
  • 20,000 UGX = 8 GB data for 1 week - $5 USD
  • 25,000 UGX = 8 GB data for 1 month - $7 USD
  • 50,000 UGX = 20 GB data for 1 month - $14 USD

For 5,000 UGX ($1.3) you can buy a voice bundle that gives you 20 minutes to call + 200 MB for 1 week.

As you can see mobile internet in Uganda is cheap, so it is worth getting a local sim card in Uganda to not end up with high roaming costs.

MTN Uganda

mtn prepaid sim card uganda

An MTN Uganda prepaid sim card costs 2,000 UGX and you can add credit to buy voice or data bundles. These are the most common data bundles:

  • 20,000 UGX = 5 GB data for 1 week - $5.6 USD
  • 50,000 UGX = 10 GB data for 1 month - $14 USD

Click on the link to see the latest MTN Uganda data package deals on their website.

As you can see MTN is much more expensive or let’s say gives less value for money than Africell. This is because Africell has a weaker 3G/4G network. But let’s look at Airtel prepaid sim cards.

Airtel Uganda

airtel sim card uganda

Just like the other mobile internet operators a prepaid Airtel sim card also costs 2,000 UGX. And they also have daily, weekly and monthly data bundles. Here are some of the most common ones I would recommend:

  • 15,000 UGX = 4 GB data for 1 week - ($4.2 USD)
  • 20,000 UGX = 7 GB data for 1 week - ($5.6 USD)
  • 30,000 UGX = 9 GB data for 1 month - ($8.5 USD)
  • 50,000 UGX = 20 GB data for 1 month - ($14.1 USD)

Calling credit can be added additionally and for 2,000 UGX ($0.5 USD) you get 45 minutes for 1 week. Click on the link to go to the Airtel Uganda website and find the latest Airtel Uganda data bundle prices.

As you can see you get more value for money with an Airtel sim card compared to an MTN sim card for Uganda.

Lycamobile Uganda

lycamobile uganda sim card

A Lycamobile Uganda sim card is free and can be picked up from any of the Lycamobile retailers. Register with your passport, recharge your sim card, choose a bundle and you are ready to go.

The Lycamobile Uganda plans are very affordable compared to the other mobile operators, but there are a couple disadvantages:

  • The Lycamobile Uganda network is much smaller
  • Their plans include only Lyca to Lyca calling credit

However their data plans have amazing value for money:

  • 5,000 UGX = 5 GB data for 1 week - ($1.4 USD)
  • 7,000 UGX = 10 GB data for 1 week - ($2 USD)
  • 10,000 UGX = 20 GB data for 1 week - ($2.8 USD)
  • 25,000 UGX = 50 GB data for 1 week - ($7.1 USD)
  • 30,000 UGX = 100 GB data for 1 month - ($8.5 USD)

No need to tell you that these bundles are by far the best prices for prepaid sim cards in Uganda. On top of that the these bundles included Lyca to Lyca calling and texting, even internationally. Check out the latest information about the Lycamobile Uganda Plans. But do I recommend a Lycamobile sim card for traveling in Uganda?

Related: Ultimate Uganda Itinerary!

Best 4G/5G network in Uganda

To find out about the best sim card in Uganda let’s also take a look at the network coverage for mobile internet.

Is there 5G in Uganda? YES! Surprisingly there is a 5G signal available in Uganda. Uganda was the first country in East Africa to have a 5G signal. However, you can only find a 5G signal in central Kampala and only with MTN.

Theoretically there is 5G in Uganda, but in reality I hardly was connected to 5G on my last trip to Kampala. When I walked into an MTN Service Center and asked about it, they didn’t even know about 5G in Uganda yet.

However, MTN and Airtel invested big time in 4G/LTE in the last 2 years and their mobile internet network coverage in Uganda is pretty decent. Especially on the main roads in Uganda you will mostly find a 4G/LTE signal when traveling around the country.

As soon as you go off the beaten path the phone signal becomes weaker and the internet speed slows down significantly, but that may be is the charm of visiting Uganda. Right?

Let's compare the mobile internet coverage maps of Uganda that are available on the internet.

Although the below mobile data network coverage maps are updated for 2024 they are definitely not 100% accurate. However, they are a reference to compare the 4G/5G networks of the mobile internet providers in Uganda in 2024.

3G/4G/5G network coverage map Airtel Uganda

airtel 4g 5g network coverage map uganda 2024

Airtel Uganda claims to reach more than 95% of the Uganda population and invested heavily in their network in 2019 and 2020. They actually have a little 4G/LTE coverage map on their website.

3G/4G/5G network coverage map MTN Uganda

mtn 4g 5g network coverage map uganda 2024

MTN claims to have the fastest 4G network in Uganda and their coverage is pretty good country wide. Just like Airtel they also invested a lot into upgrading their 4G network in Uganda.

3G/4G network Africell Uganda

It is much harder to find more info about the 4G coverage of the Africell network in Uganda. Unfortunately they don’t provide any additional info on their website. Fact is that Africell is the smallest network in Uganda after of course Lycamobile who just entered the market.

3G/4G network Lycamobile Uganda

Lycamobile is investing and expanding rapidly and their 4G coverage is growing fast. Still I would NOT recommend a Lycamobile sim card for traveling in Uganda, as other mobile internet operators have a much more extensive 4G network in Uganda.

Overall it is no secret that MTN and Airtel have the best 4G network coverage in Uganda and therefore I recommend tourists to buy a sim card from one of these operators.

However if you are going to Bwindi National Park for the gorilla trekking then I would recommend you buying an Airtel sim card. My friends with Airtel had an ok phone signal, but I had MTN and I could hardly connect. Therefore Airtel is the best sim card for gorilla trekking in Uganda.

Best sim card for Uganda in 2024

From the prepaid sim card comparison Traveltomtom concludes that the best value for money would be buying a Lycamobile prepaid sim card for Uganda. For less than $10 USD you get 100 GB data for 1 month. However I would NOT recommend tourist to buy a Lycamobile sim card.

For example if you are traveling to Bwindi National Park you will be out of service. Lycamobile is only good if you visit Kampala on your trip to Uganda.

In the National Parks around Uganda you can hardly find Africell and MTN let alone Lycamobile. Based on all the above information about the 3G/4G/5G network coverage in Uganda and the cheap prices for data plans it is clear that Airtel is the best prepaid sim card in Uganda in 2024.

Traveltomtom is an advocate for using e-sim cards when traveling abroad. They are very convenient and simple to use. However, fact is that e-sim cards for Uganda are more expensive than local prepaid sim cards.

That said, e-sim cards are so easy to get that I often happily pay the higher price. Plus you are online as soon as the plane touches the ground and you don't need to buy a sim card on arrival in Uganda.

Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for Uganda via either SimOptions or Airalo.

Order a prepaid sim card for Uganda online

international prepaid sim cards for uganda 2024

If your phone is not e-sim compatible but you would like to order a sim card for traveling to Uganda online before your trip then check out the following.

Arrive prepared in Uganda with an international prepaid sim card. You order them online and a physical prepaid sim card will be delivered to your home address. You put this sim card in your phone and it automatically connects to an available network upon arrival in Uganda, basically when the plane lands you are instantly online.

SimOptions is the only sim card provider that sells physical prepaid sim cards for Uganda:

  • 10 GB data for 14 days = $49.90 USD

Click here for more info or to order an international sim card for Uganda via SimOptions.

Traveltomtom has used this Orange physical prepaid sim cards in the past for traveling to Africa and I was always satisfied. However, nowadays it is no secret that I rather use e-sim cards for traveling abroad instead of physical prepaid sim cards. 

If your phone is e-sim compatible then here is a last reminder that you can arrange everything online in just a couple clicks. Order an e-sim card for Colombia on the internet and arrive prepared. More expensive, but very convenient!

Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for Uganda via either SimOptions or Airalo.

My experience buying a sim card in Uganda

As you have seen I also wrote a blog about buying a sim card at Entebbe Airport however, that is NOT where I bought my sim card for Uganda. I went to Entebbe Airport only for writing the blog post. The first time I traveled to Uganda I entered Uganda overland from Tanzania

At the Uganda - Tanzania border of Mutukula there is no kiosk that sells sim cards for tourists. Therefore I had to wait until I got out of the bus in Masaka. It was already late, but just before curfew (covid days) I managed to locate an Airtel shop. Although I preferably wanted an MTN sim card (best network I thought at that time) I was happy that at this hour I got an Airtel sim card.

After all the official procedures, which took about 15 minutes, the friendly people told me: sorry, can’t activate, the system is down! Damn! Which meant it was useless to buy a sim card as I had to come back tomorrow anyway.

The next day I woke up early to continue my trip to Mbarara, one of the bigger cities in Uganda. Here I tried again to buy a sim card and this time I went to an official MTN store. Again I needed to do the whole process and again same problem… system down. Luckily I could come back after lunch and the problem was fixed.

It took a lot of effort but finally I got my Uganda prepaid sim card and I was online. Throughout my Uganda trip I didn’t have any significant problems with my MTN sim card. However when traveling in Southern Uganda: Lake Mburo, Lake Bunyonyi and gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park I found out that my friends who had an Airtel sim card had much better phone signal than me.

Therefore I recommend people traveling to Uganda and trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to buy an Airtel sim card.

On my last trip to Uganda I got myself a 1 GB data e-sim card from Airalo just to get through the first day and be online as soon as the plane lands. The next day I was intended to go to a sim card store, only to arrive at an Airtel shop and saw the massive line of people. I decided to not go through all the hassle of buying a local prepaid sim card in Uganda this time. Instead I went online and topped up my e-sim card. A little more expensive, but so much easier.

I am sure some of the above tips and tricks about Uganda sim cards were helpful. If you have any additional questions or information please leave me a comment below.

Check out my Uganda page for with multiple Uganda travel blogs full of tips and travel inspiration in the lush green little country in East Africa. Curious about my road to visit every country in the world? Check out my Instagram profile @traveltomtom where you can also find many cool content about Uganda. As of June 2024 I have visited more than 155 countries.

Enjoy your trip to Uganda!