Addis Ababa - Post Report Question and Answers

Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Everyone uses Ethiotel (gvt monopoly service) although Safaricom is also available. We bought a sim and inserted into our phones. It's not super cheap (about $60 a month) nor great, but it works. - Dec 2023

Bring your own phone from home, or use an official embassy-issued phone. Sim cards and plans are inexpensive. - Aug 2023

Local provider. The staff at the commissary can help set up. - Aug 2023

Only Telecom, and it is terrible. - Aug 2022

The only phone service is Ethio Telecom. I use my phone from the States but bought a SIM card in country. Quality phones themselves aren’t too easy to find so I recommend bringing an unlocked phone that can use a SIM card from anywhere. - Jul 2022

I use a local plan. I don't know if that's best or not. - Jun 2021

ETC is the only provider. - Feb 2021

Ethiotel is a monopoly so you will have no choice. - Aug 2020

Ethio telecom is the only local provider and no other plans will work here. - Mar 2020

Bring your own unlocked phone. Anything bought local is probably a knockoff. Like the internet phone service is owned by the government. Kids under 18 are not allowed to have a number. Parents typically open accounts in their name, but you are only allowed to open one account at a time. So it can take several days/attempts to get each family member a phone number. They do sell monthly plans, but most just buy credit as needed. The US commissary offers the largest denomination for credit and is the easiest for us. - Feb 2020

Bring your own and use a local provider. You'll have to buy data which can be expensive. - Feb 2019

Local provider, not too expensive, decent coverage. - Oct 2018

Bring an unlocked smartphone and carry a cheap local phone. Petty theft seems to be almost guaranteed. - Aug 2018

I brought unlocked iPhones. You can get local smart phones or other kinds of phones. I used local provider, Ethio Telecom. For expats, you need to bring these items to Ethio Telecom: 1. Passport
2. A copy of your passport page that has entry date stamp (for registering your phone)
3. Your phone
4. Cash - 30 ETB for 3G SIM card. More for 4G SIM card, and how much ever you want to store value in your phone.
- Jul 2018

We use a local provider for our cell phones. - Jan 2018

EthioTelecom is your one and only choice. The 3G service is quite good, when the government hasn't shut it down, but again, data is expensive. Sometimes you have to dial a few times before the call actually goes through, but it usually works fine. Roaming is available in a surprising number of countries, but don't even think about trying roaming data unless you have a whole bunch of money you don't know how to spend. - Sep 2017

I have one but again, like the internet, it's a monopoly controlled by the GOE. It's crap. At peak times, don't expect to be able to get calls out. Non-peak times, it works but you get dropped calls left and right. The telecommunications infrastructure was managed by the Chinese so the quality is just terrible. You can pick up a SIM card anywhere if you have an existing phone but you will have to jury-rig it for iPhone 5s or less (the SIM card won't physically fit appropriately). - Aug 2016

ETC, again, is a government monopoly. No outside providers function here. Roaming is incredibly expensive. Local service is very spotty. No difference in quality between 2G, 3G and 4G. You get what you get. - Aug 2016

If you want a smart-phone, get an unlocked one before you come. Otherwise, buy a cheap phone when you arrive. It's a government monopoly, so you have to buy your SIM when you arrive. Data is expensive, but domestic calls and texts are dirt cheap. - Feb 2016

State-owned monopoly and all that entails. - May 2014

Beware, cell coverage is sporadic and coverage does not extend to all houses. Texting often works better than voice calls, so a phone with good texting ability is a plus. - Jan 2014

The only option is Ethio Telecom. SIM cards work in any unlocked phone. - Nov 2013

Can get them anywhere and on the cheap. 3G simcards can be found for Iphones - Jun 2012

There is only one provider -- ETC. It's a stodgy government monopoly. Yuck. - Aug 2010

There is only one provider, the government-owned monopoly. Service is terrible - far worse than in other African countries. Be prepared not to talk to relatives and friends in other countries. Foreign phones and blackberries often do not work. - Jun 2010

Subscribe to our newsletter

New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More