The first mobile phones arrived in Ghana in 1992. Since then, the market has grown and developed greatly. It is the most profitable telecommunications market in Ghana by a long way.
There are six main mobile phone providers in Ghana including:
- MTN Ghana
- Vodafone, with over 4 million customers
- Tigo, with over 4 million customers
- Airtel, with an average of 2.5 million customers
The leader of the market is MTN, which has a market share of almost 50%, with over 11 million customers.
To quickly obtain clear information, you can visit the operators’ websites, which are in English and provide information about the different packages that they offer.
There are both prepaid and postpaid options for mobile phones, which you are free to choose between, depending on your consumption wants and needs. Some operators also offer international packages for expats to phone abroad.
The prepaid option generally requires you to buy a mobile phone and sim card for an affordable price, and to top-up the credit when you need to. This appears to be the cheapest option, however it includes an obligation to top-up regularly, in order for your number to remain active. This validity period is normally 90 days.
Not all services are free of charge, and you may be charged from the phone credit that you have. It is advisable to know and understand which services are free or not.
A cheaper option may be to buy a low cost mobile phone and sim package (e.g. MTN offers packages for less than 38 GH¢ ($20 USD; €15 EUR)). This phone will have limited costly services available, and saves you from using the mobile from your previous country. You can purchase a cheap mobile phone in any phone store, where you will be asked to provide details such as identity, nationality and age.
A basic mobile contract can be signed at one of the operator’s retail stores, or even on the internet. The phone can be obtained at the same time as the contract is signed. As an expatriate, extra documents may be required, such as:
- A residence visa/permit
- Proof of your identity
- Proof of billing address
- A bank statement
The monthly fee for a postpaid contract depends on your consumption. The average price per minute is between 0.08 GH¢ and 0.13 GH¢, depending on your operator.
Some providers offer a special contract to include international phone calls. This may really appeal to expatriates, as Tigo and Vodafone, for example, offer an international roaming offer, that you can subscribe to by calling a certain number.
Airtel also offers a special service for international subscribers, which offers a lower price for communication to certain countries (including the UK, France, and the USA). This allows the subscriber to pay 0.09 GH¢ per minute, and to receive a 25% discount on their mobile phone. There are also international packs, which contain a set number of free minutes, and is valid for a limited amount of time. Calls cost between 0.50 GH¢ and 15 GH¢ per minute in a 179 minute package (US$0.27 - $8; €0.02 - €6).
Mobile phone connection to the internet
A mobile phone contract may include an internet package, as most Ghanaians prefer this to the alternative of having a fixed internet access.
It is important to know that 2G coverage is almost countrywide, including much of the Ghanaian countryside. 3G coverage is still quite new in Ghana, and seems to be limited to the main cities. If you have a dual band phone, it should work around Ghana.