Traveling to Gabon anytime soon and looking for the best way to stay connected? Get yourself a local prepaid sim card on arrival or an e-sim card for Gabon. In this guide I will explain you everything you need to know for staying connected when traveling to Gabon. Find out where to buy a sim card in Gabon, the best e-sim cards for Gabon, up to date prices as per May 2023, the best 4G/5G network in Gabon, my recommendation, my experiences and more information about international sim cards for Gabon.
Traveling is my biggest passion and visiting every country in the world is a dream. Whenever I get to a new country the first thing I do is finding the best way to get connected. Mostly that is by buying a local prepaid sim card, but depending on the length of my stay I prefer an e-sim card. On Traveltomtom you can already find more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world: France, Paris, Sao Tome & Principe, Cameroon, Douala, Congo Brazzaville, Europe, USA, UK, Lebanon, Dubai and many more.
Why buying a sim card in Gabon
Don’t think you can easily get away with using the hotel’s free public WiFi when traveling to Gabon. There might be free WiFi but don’t have any expectations. This is Central Africa and you can’t expect fast free WiFi. On my trip to Gabon I did NOT use the free public WiFi anywhere.
Also another reminder that public WiFi is through an UNSECURED connection. The use of a VPN in these cases is very much recommended.
Overseas data plans limit your internet speed and data roaming is simply outrageously expensive. Therefore Traveltomtom recommends buying a local prepaid sim card in Gabon or an e-sim card for traveling to Gabon. It takes just a couple minutes to register and you can get a lot of data for little money.
Be aware that foreign sim cards only work in unlocked phones. Make sure your phone is unlocked before your trip to Gabon. If you are unsure about this contact your provider in your home country. This also counts for e-sim cards and international sim cards.
Based on my own experience and my research Traveltomtom recommends an Airtel prepaid sim card for Gabon.
If you want to arrive in Gabon prepared you can also buy a sim card online before your Gabon trip and get it shipped to your home address. Check out my list of the best international sim cards for traveling in 2023 and see which ones I recommend for traveling in Gabon.
The easiest solution? An e-sim card for Gabon!
Best e-sim cards for Gabon
The easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Gabon in 2023 is an e-sim card. Forget about swapping sim cards and visiting a phone store. Order an e-sim card online, instantly receive QR code, follow the steps and your are all set.
Check out the following e-sim card deals for Gabon:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $8 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $16 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $24 USD
Click here to directly order a Gabon e-sim card online or check this link for more info.
The above data only-sim cards from Libreville operate on the Airtel network in Gabon. Data is only valid in Gabon.
There is also an international e-sim card from AIS that works in more than 120 countries including Gabon.
- 6 GB data for 15 days = $39.90 USD
Click here to order this international e-sim card for Gabon directly online.
You can also still order a physical international prepaid sim card for Gabon online. In the link you will find an offer for $49.90 USD and you will get 10 GB data to use in Gabon for 14 days.
Mobile internet operators in Gabon
Gabon is a big country, but it has only 2 million inhabitants. There are 2 mobile internet providers in the country. There is Airtel and MOOV Africa (former Gabon Telecom). Both operators sell prepaid sim cards.
Where to buy a Gabon sim card
Buying a sim card at Libreville International Airport
The easiest place to buy a sim card in Gabon is on arrival at Libreville Airport. There is not much choice as you can only find an Airtel store at Libreville Airport. Traveltomtom recommends buying a sim card at Libreville Airport for several reasons: the staff speaks at least some English, they are used to selling prepaid sim cards for tourists in Gabon and it is mostly not too busy.
You can find the Airtel store on your right side when you walk out after the customs check. It is very easy to find. It is in the covered area opposite Paul’s Bakery.
The Airtel store at Libreville Airport unfortunately only accepts cash payments, credit cards are NOT accepted. There are ATM’s at the airport as well as currency exchange kiosks. The Airtel store is open from 06.00 am to 07.00 pm.
Mbolo Shopping Mall
May you have missed the opportunity to buy a sim card for Gabon at Libreville Airport then Traveltomtom recommends you to visit Mbolo Shopping Mall in Libreville city center. Here you will find an Airtel store and a MOOV Africa store. It is the most well known shopping mall in Gabon and every taxi driver knows where it is.
Always bring your passport when buying a sim card in Gabon as they will need it to register your new Gabon prepaid sim card on your name and your passport number. A copy of your passport will be taken or they take a photo of your passport page. You will receive a new number starting with +241.
Prices Gabon prepaid sim cards
The below prices are up to date as per May 2023. Prices are in CFA (Central African Franc) and as of May 2023: $1 USD = 595 CFA and 100 CFA = $0.17 UD.
An Airtel prepaid sim card cost 1,000 XAF ($1.7) for the registration and then you can top up with a large scale of data packages. Daily, weekly, monthly. There is a lot of choice see the photo above. Here are a couple common ones:
- 2.5 GB data for 7 days = 5,000 XAF
- 5 GB data for 14 days = 8,000 XAF
- 10 GB data for 7 days = 10,000 XAF
- 7 GB data for 30 days = 10,000 XAF
- 15 GB data for 30 days = 20,000 XAF
A Moov Africa prepaid sim card also costs 1,000 XAF ($1.7) for the registration and you will have to top up with one of the daily, weekly, monthly data packages to be able to use internet on your phone. Check all the available options in the photo above. Here is a selection of the most common ones:
- 2.5 GB data for 14 days = 5,000 XAF
- 5 GB data for 14 days = 7,500 XAF
- 7 GB data for 30 days = 10,000 XAF
- 15 GB data for 30 days = 20,000 XAF
Best 4G/5G network in Gabon
Did you know that 90% of Gabon is forest? So when looking at the network coverage maps for Gabon you understand why there is very limited phone signal available around the country. However, the three big cities and tourists spots: Libreville, Port Gentil and Franceville are all covered.IF you are looking for 5G then sorry, but there is no 5G in Gabon as per May 2023.
MOOV Africa 4G/5G coverage map
Airtel 4G/5G coverage map
It doesn’t matter where you travel in Gabon, you will go off the beaten path!
From the above 4G/5G coverage maps we can clearly see that the mobile network in Gabon is very little. But the latest data is showing that Airtel has a stronger mobile internet network than MOOV Africa and therefore we come to the conclusion that Airtel has the best 4G network in Gabon.
Best prepaid Gabon sim card in 2023
Based on the prices for mobile data and the 4G network coverage we can concluded that Airtel is the best prepaid sim card for Gabon in 2023.
Prices at Airtel and Moov Africa for data packages in Gabon are more or less the same. Moov actually has better coverage for those who are traveling to Franceville in 2023. So it is recommended to buy a Moov prepaid sim card in Gabon.
An e-sim card for Gabon saves you from all the hassle of finding the a sim card store in Gabon and as soon as the plane lands you are connected, but it is much more expensive and 5 GB data already cost you $24 USD.
However, Airtel has the best mobile network coverage and for $17 USD you get at least 10 GB for 1 week. In my case I even got a massive 200% bonus with Airtel! Read more about it below.
Buying a sim card for Gabon online
If this all sounds like too much hassle then check out the following option. This international sim card covers Gabon and will be send to your home address before your trip. It will automatically be activated from its first use:
- 10 GB data for 14 days = $49.90 USD
Click here to order this international sim card for Gabon directly online.
Also another reminder that the easiest way to stay connected abroad is an e-sim card. Arrange everything in just 2 minutes by ordering an e-sim card for Gabon.
My experiences buying a sim card in Gabon
Upon arrival at Libreville Airport I looked around finding a shop for buying a Gabon prepaid sim card. There is only an Airtel shop at Libreville Airport so there wasn’t much choice. The guy charged me 1,000 XAF ($1.7) for the sim card, but when I told him I wanted to buy a data package with 10 GB data for 7 days for 10,000 XAF ($17) he said he would waive away the sim card registration fee.
Nice warm welcome to Gabon! It is not often in Africa that you get things for free so I took it. On top of that the friendly and helpful guy at the Airtel shop told me that they were giving an extra 200% bonus, which meant another 20 GB extra and also 10,000 XAF calling credit.
Basically I spent 10,000 XAF ($17 USD) and I got 30 GB data and 10,000 XAF calling credit for 1 week! I would say that is an amazing Gabon sim card deal! Right?
BTW on arrival at Libreville Airport I had to pay a bribe after setting foot in the country for less than 30 seconds. The extremely corrupt officers at Libreville Airport scan arriving tourists for not wearing their masks properly so be aware! Of course the pandemic is long time over, but it still is a funny side story! :)
They tried to fine you 25,000 XAF ($43), I got away with bribing 5,000 XAF ($9) but it feels SOOOOO BAD to be welcomed like this to a country.
After traveling a lot in West and Central Africa I know how things work, but I will never get used to bribing corrupt police officers!
Anyway, during my trip to Gabon I was constantly connected to the internet with a 4G signal. Must add that I spent only 1 week in Gabon and only traveled in and around Libreville. However, I was surprised with the data speed of my 4G connection on my Airtel sim card. Sometimes I enjoyed a download speed of up to 40 Mbps and upload of 25 Mbps.
I never used the free hotel WiFi or the public WiFi from the coffee shops. When using my Macbook for keeping this travel blog up to date I always created a hotspot from my phone and connected my Macbook to my Airtel sim card. It worked perfectly fine!
This blog is the reasons I am able to afford traveling the world full time! Click on the link to read how I started, how it evolved and how it works now!
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.
May you have any additional questions about buying a sim card in Congo then hit me up in the comments below please. I am happy to help you out as much as I can.
Enjoy your trip to Gabon!