Sponsored by Today, Sun, Jan 29 2023 Accraexpat sign in left Member Login | Sign Up Accraexpat sign in right   Sponsored by
Accraexpat logo
loading ads...
HOW TO Guide

How To with mobile communications




Mobile communications

A big role in everyone’s daily life.



Mobile telecommunications are now a recognized success all over Africa and billions have been made by those who had foreseen its potential over poor landline infrastructures run by mismanaged public companies.


The first cellular phone service in Ghana was initiated by Mobitel in 1992. In that year alone, 19,000 Ghanaians owned mobile phones. In 1998, the number of mobile phone users in the country increased to 43,000. In 2000, four companies competed for cellular customers and subscribers numbered 132,000.


Within the last decade, Ghana’s mobile telecommunication industry has simply exploded and is thriving due to the continuous development of the country, a fast growing customer base, low rates compared to some other African countries and a competitive array of competent providers. After passing the 5 million mark in 2005, the industry had 15 million subscribers at the end of 2009 (according to the Communications Ministry), an amazing annual growth and a penetration rate of almost two-third (an illustration of the reduction of the number of people living below the national poverty line from 52% in 1991/92 to 28% in 2005/6?). The 20 million mark was passed early 2012.


Everyone knew that things would never be the same again in Ghana’s mobile telecommunication industry with international giant Vodafone’s entry into the market in 2009, shortly after Zain’s (now Airtel). Ghana is now the meeting point of major African and international telecoms players: MTN, Tigo, Vodafone, Airtel, and the long-awaited Glo Mobile from Nigeria.


Since then, the competition is raging and everyone’s efforts to sign-on new customers and keep existing ones is significant. In 2009, Vodafone made an entry splash with one million dollar* grand prize (comprising a 4-bedroom fully furnished high-end house, a Japanese brand 4X4 vehicle with a complimentary driver for 3 months and 12 months free high speed Vodafone Broadband internet connection) and Airtle/Zain’s spring stunt since then, “Live Your Dream”, a promotion where the biggest of the cash rewards was a whopping GHc75,000. And so on. The competition now extends beyond regular mobile services to Internet access.




 A review of mobile communications providers

Getting connected

 Note: identification of Phone Chip Owners

A word of advice




Promotions are good but what is important is that the cost of using your mobile in Ghana and to call abroad is very reasonable, as such and when compared to other African countries, such as Cameroun.


Local calls were at an average GHS 0.135 per minute but Vodafone has brought rates down to below 10 Pesewas a minute, as low as GHS 0.08. Pricing for foreign calls are less simple as there are no single operator leading with international rates so, before selecting an operator, check the rate to the country(ies) you plan to call most. See some end user tariffs on this page (PDF version here) of the website of the National Communications Authority. Note that MTN and Airtel offer special rates to countries they operate in and that all operators charge per second. For example, international rates from MTN in 2014 were divided in seven groups of countries, from GHS 0.15 to 1.15 per mn.
Above rates are subject to change without notice. Please check with operators.

To call abroad, dial 00 before your country code and local number.


A review of mobile communications providers
See the Editor Blog's Post on the subject.


MTN, the leader    45% market share

MTN has always been a market leader in Ghana. From when the network was branded Spacefon, Areeba and finally MTN, it always stood out with their wide network coverage and numerous value-added services. Being the first digital cellular network in Ghana, the high quality offered by their GSM technology attracted many people. Scancom Ghana Limited (the company behind MTN in Ghana) is one of the biggest companies in Ghana, has been the leader from the start and enjoys the fastest growth. Its cellular network had less than a million subscribers late 2004 and reached eight millions in April 2010. MTN is however loosing ground with a market share that went below 50% late 2011.

Vodafone, the true international brand    23% market share
Vodafone is widely known to be a world-class telecommunications company and the seventh most valuable brand in the world. One can only expect the very best from them, following their take-over of Ghana Telecom and its Onetouch subsidiary. Vodafone made a lot of noise with its launch into Ghana in spring 2009 and still does. A year and a half later, it had over 15% of the market and 15.4 million clients. How the similar branding colors of Vodafone and Airtel will affect the two brands will be observed.

Tigo, the challenger
      13.5% market share

Tigo grew out of Mobitel Ghana, the first cellular network in Ghana that launched way back in 1992. As a result of their slow innovation, Spacefon (now MTN) that launched in 1995 seized the baton from them but Tigo has always fought back, even more since Zain and Vodafone entered the market.

Airtel (ex-Zain) - a loud entry, a sophisticated network     12% market share
Before going live in December 2008, Koweit’s Zain did their homework very well and launched a very sophisticated network. In addition, financial muscle allowed them to announce their new brand loudly and they did that with maximum effect. Before then, no operator had given MTN serious competition like Zain has. In November 2010, as Zain nearly reached 10% of the market, its operations have been rebranded Airtel following India's Bharti Airtel purchase of Zain's African operations.

Glo Mobile, delayed but charged for action since 2012
    5% market share
Glo Mobile of Globacom, created in 2003, has become the market leader in its home country Nigeria. It revolutionized the telecoms industry in Nigeria with lower tariffs and even more value added services. Though Glo won a licence in June 2008 through a closely-contested bid to run a cellular network over a year ago (US$ 50.1 million), the roll-out in Ghana had been much delayed by bureaucracy from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other reasons. Launch was expected for 2010, then late 2011 and finally happened in April 2012. GLO had a highly awaited Internet service.


Expresso (ex. Kasapa)     0.5% market share
Kasapa means ‘good talk’ in Twi, the most widely-spoken local language in Ghana. The Kasapa logo incorporates the “nnewuta” or double bell, a widely-recognised Ghanaian cultural symbol. The sound made by the nnewuta mimics the pronunciation of the word Kasapa. 
An early operator (named Celltel) became Kasapa and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hutchison Telecom in January 2005. Coverage has since expanded from the capital metropolitan area to over 250 cities, towns and villages in seven of Ghana’s ten regions.
Kasapa has undergone series of ownership deals with off-shore telecommunication giants like Dubai-based Expresso Telecoms and Sudatel, a fairly new operator originating from Sudan, without going through the approved and legal means of acquisition. As a result of this purported action, the company is currently trailing behind other telecommunication companies in the country with the lowest subscription. Kasapa’s Bob Palitz MD resigned in February 2010 after nine years as managing director.
Kasapa has been taken over by Expresso Telecom in October 2010.

The above market share figures are based on a total number of mobile phone subcribers of 29.3 millions at October 2014.

Getting connected

Excluding Expresso and until GLO comes in, we can't advise any of the four current operators but MTN has the most network problems in Accra which many expatriates rightly complain about - things have however improved. One way to choose can be based on who has the best rates to your home country or which operator your main business associates are using.


Getting a number in Ghana is quick, easy and cheap. One can buy an already activated SIM cards/chip of the operator of his choice at their outlets or at numerous resellers’ shops and booth. The cost is amazingly insignificant at GHS 1.00 generaly and some free credit may be included.


Considering the regular network problems they encounter, many urban Ghanaians have two phones with numbers from different operators. One is usually preferred for international calls to specific countries.

It is possible to find phones in Accra which can support two SIM cards.

Note: all mobile telecommunications providers are also providers of Internet service. Please see our "How To with Internet and computers" Resource page.


Note: identification of Phone Chip Owners       

Following a decision by the National Communications Authority (NCA) and since September 30th, 2011, one must show an ID in order to buy a SIM card/chip of any Mobile Phone Operator.

Note: the web application Promolante helps telecom subscribers easily discover and review promotions and services from the various Telecom companies in Ghana.

A word of advice

Phones get lost with greater ease and frequency than we think, probably even more in your new host country than at home. As you are new here, you will meet many most faces and their contacts which you have entered in your phone may be difficult to get again. So better be safe than sorry: copy down all your Ghana numbers on a note book or in an Excel file weekly. The day you will lose you phone, you will be sorry for the hardware only, not for the loss of valuable contacts. Do no forget to bring your ID when getting a new SIM card. 

Translate this page

Stay connected with .com

Join hundreds of expats in accraexpat.com Group.

Currency Converter