Planning a trip to Burundi? You must be an adventurer! One of the more off the grid countries in the world, but definitely worth a visit. This is your complete guide for buying a sim card for Burundi with where to buy a sim card, up to date prices as per May 2023, the best 4G network in Burundi and everything else you need to know.
Recently the whole visa system changed and you can now get a visa on arrival for $90 USD for 1 month and a transit visa for $40 for 3 days. May be more people will start traveling to Burundi now. Let’s hope it, the lovely people of Burundi deserve it.
Traveltomtom is on a journey to visit every country in the world and that is how I also ended up traveling to Burundi. Everywhere I go I write a guide for buying a local prepaid sim card and that is why on Traveltomtom you can find more than 200 sim card guide from all over the world: France, Paris, Kigali, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Cameroon, USA, Lebanon and many more.
So when you are planning your next adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest and up to date prepaid sim card advice. Bookmark this website!
Traveltomtom recommends a Lumitel prepaid sim card for Burundi. They have by far the most advanced 3G/4G network in Burundi and internet packages are cheap! For $5 you can already get 6 GB data for 1 week.
If you want to arrange a sim card before your trip I recommend you to check out my guide for buying an international sim card for traveling in 2023. In the link you can find a comparison of the best travel sim cards and find the one that suits your trip to Africa.
Where to buy a sim card in Burundi
The most convenient place to get a prepaid sim card would of course be on arrival at the airport. Unfortunately at Bujumbura International Airport they don’t sell prepaid sim cards. Despite the fact that you see Lumitel advertisement everywhere there is no Lumitel shop at Bujumbura Airport.
For getting a local prepaid Burundi sim card you will have to go to the city center of Bujumbura to one of the official Lumitel or Econet stores. You can find them on Google Maps in the heart of the city.
For buying a prepaid sim card in Burundi you will need to bring your passport as this is how your sim card will be registered. Therefore you can not just buy a sim card anywhere on the streets in Burundi, only at the official stores.
Not only will they take a photo of your passport, they will also take a photo of you holding your new number. If you feel like this is too much hassle look into buying a sim card for Africa online.
Mobile internet operators Burundi
Being such a small and unknown country I was surprised to find out that Burundi actually has 4 main mobile internet providers:
- Smart Mobile
Normally I would research and compare all operators, but I found out that Smart Mobile and Onatel are two very small providers with a very small 3G/4G network and therefore not worth considering as a Burundi prepaid sim card for tourists.
Prices Burundi sim cards in 2023
To make it easy we count 10,000 BIF as $5 USD.
A prepaid sim card from Econet costs 500 BIF ($0.25 USD) for the registration and does not come with any credit. To top up you can choose from any of the following data packages:
- 2,500 BIF = 1 GB for 2 days
- 8,000 BIF = 1 GB for 30 days
- 12,000 BIF = 1.8 GB for 30 days
- 22,000 BIF = 5 GB for 30 days
- 35,000 BIF = 9 GB for 30 days
Econet has more data pacakges available with for example unlimited social media, but the above offers are the most common bundles.
You can activate these data bundles dialling *405*. To check you Econet data balance you dial *405*7*. For more info check the Econet Burundi website.
A prepaid Lumitel sim card costs 10,000 BIF ($5), but also comes with 10,000 BIF credit so it is basically for free and on top of that 1 GB data is already included. The 10,000 BIF you can use for making phone calls, but you can also convert it into an extra data bundle.
Lumitel offers data bundles per day, week, 2 weeks and 1 month:
- 1,999 BIF = 2.5 GB for 24 hours
- 4,999 BIF = 6.5 GB for 24 hours
- 3,000 BIF = 1 GB for 7 days
- 5,000 BIF = 2 GB for 7 days
- 10,000 BIF = 5 GB for 7 days
- 20,000 BIF = 10 GB for 7 days
- 5,000 BIF = 1.5 GB for 15 days
- 9,000 BIF = 2.7 GB for 30 days
- 14,000 BIF = 4.5 GB for 30 days
- 20,000 BIF = 7 GB for 30 days
- 38,000 BIF = 13 GB for 30 days
- 50,000 BIF = 23 GB for 30 days
To activate one of the above package or to check your balance simply dial: *150#.
As you can see Lumitel is much cheaper than Econet. This could be a sign that Lumitel has a weaker 3G/4G network in Burundi. Let’s see…
For more info about the latest Lumitel prepaid sim card deals check the Lumitel Burundi website.
Best 4G/5G network in Burundi in 2023
First off, there is no 5G in Burundi as per May 2023 which is understandable regarding the fact that Burundi is regarded as one of the poorest countries in the world. However, there is an ok 4G network available, but which provider has the best 3G/4G network in Burundi. Let’s have a look at the Burundi 4G coverage maps.
As mentioned before there are 4 mobile internet providers in Burundi, but Onatel and Smart Mobile have such small networks that I didn’t include them in my research.
From the above we can very easily conclude that Lumitel has the best 3G/4G network in Burundi.
Best Burundi sim card in 2023
Since there are no e-sim cards for Burundi nor international sim cards that work in Burundi the only option travelers have is buying a local prepaid sim card in Burundi. But don't worry it is easy and it also is the best way to stay connected when traveling in Burundi. You will get the best network coverage and the fastest data speed available.
After my Burundi sim card comparison it leaves no doubt that the best prepaid sim card for traveling in Burundi in 2023 is Lumitel. They have by far the best mobile internet network in Burundi in 2023 and they offer a wide range of prepaid data bundles for tourist to choose from.
Also based on my own experiences I can tell you that I was very satisfied with a Lumitel Burundi sim card.
My experiences buying a sim card in Burundi
As it was very clear which Burundi sim card is the best for traveling around the country I looked on Google Maps for a Lumitel store in Bujumbura city. I of course would have wanted to buy a sim card for Burundi at Bujumbura Airport but there was unfortunately no store.
When reaching the Lumitel shop in Bujumbura a couple young and friendly local guys jumped out of their seat to help me. I told them I wanted to buy a prepaid sim card, get it registered and working, add credit and activate a data bundle.
I had to give my passport and it took the guys about 5-10 minutes before they were done with the registration. They assured me the sim card would be working within 10 minutes and I believed them so I continued sightseeing in Bujumbura and went for lunch.
An hour later the sim card was still not activated so I went back to the guys and asked them what was going on. They again needed my passport, but I told them this time I wasn’t leaving before my Lumitel prepaid sim card was working and I was connected to the internet in Burundi.
It took the guys another 5 minutes, but everything was working smooth now and I was connected to the 4G in Burundi.
Unfortunately I visited Burundi for just 3 days. I rented a car + driver ($70 per day including fuel) and drove around the countryside for 2 days to see some tea plantations and local villages before I ended up at a beach resort in Lake Tanganyika. As I loved it so much I stayed the whole next day as well.
While on the road I actually mostly enjoyed 4G and sometimes 3G. I was pretty surprised by the network coverage to be honest. In Bujumbura I used my Lumitel prepaid sim card to create a hotspot for my Macbook and it worked very well.
I was able to do all my online work as usual and did have any issues. I signed up to the 24 hour data package which gave me 6.5 GB data for just 4,999 BIF ($5 USD).
I hope all the above tips for buying a sim card in Burundi were helpful. May you have any questions regarding the above or just about traveling in Burundi please leave me a comment below and I will try to help you out.
If you are interested what it looks like traveling to every country in the world then check out my Instagram profile @traveltomtom for some serious wanderlust. As of May 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries around the world.
Enjoy your trip to Burundi!