How to activate roaming on MTN, Airtel and Africell Uganda

How to activate roaming on MTN Airtel Africell Uganda -
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In order to enjoy mobile telecom services of your mobile network while you are abroad, you can enable roaming. This works best for users who travel a lot to near by or even far away countries.

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What is Roaming?

Literally, the word roaming means “wandering” or moving around. However, in mobile communications, the term roaming may refer to using one’s device on a host network while in a different location.

Roaming ensures that a mobile phone remains connected to a network while a subscriber to a certain network is abroad/out of the country in which the network is registered.

The subscriber’s mobile phone connects to a roaming network which allows the subscriber to:

  • Receive and make voice calls automatically
  • Receive and send SMS
  • Have access to internet connectivity/data, and
  • Access their network’s services in the new area (country or region) they have visited.

For example;

If Claire, from Uganda subscribes to MTN Uganda, but over the weekend, she plans to drive cross country and go over to Kenya, When Claire crosses the border from Uganda into Kenya, as long as she has Roaming services enabled, her mobile will automatically connect to one of the available mobile networks in Kenya, say SafariCom.

In order for this to be possible, SafariCom and MTN Uganda have to have a roaming agreement in place. It will also require a technical connection for MTN Uganda to work.

Types of Roaming

1. International Roaming – Roaming while one is in another country, not their own.

2. National Roaming – Roaming while you are in your own country. This happens when one visits a far away village.

How to activate roaming on MTN -

How to activate roaming on MTN Uganda

1. Automatic roaming activation

Once you arrive in another country, and your phone is turned on, an approved network in this host country will automatically be turned on. MTN Uganda enables this for all its users who travel in countries where its roaming services are available.

If you do not see this happening, you can activate roaming manually by;

  • Visiting ‘Settings’ on your phone
  • Go to ‘network selection’
  • Click ‘Manual selection’
  • Go ahead and select your preferred network, among the list of networks that will have been listed for you.

These differ based on your handset.

2. Postpaid roaming activation

Before travelling to a country, MTN Uganda can pre-approve your line for automatic international roaming services.

In order to do this, have to send MTN Uganda a formal letter requesting them to activate your MTN line for roaming services, together with refundable deposit payment of UGX 360,000.

Incase your device doesn’t connect automatically to the roaming network, you can select it manually following the steps in the previous section.

Roaming services offered by MTN Uganda;

  • Making Calls
  • Receiving Calls
  • Sending and receiving SMS
  • Data roaming

How to activate Roaming on Airtel Uganda

1. Prepaid roaming services

With prepaid roaming, Airtel Uganda enables its users to automatically enjoy Airtel roaming services when they travel to destinations where they are enabled. All you need is to load airtime and enjoy access to your services.

2. Manual network selection

Some cases occur when your phone doesn’t detect the network while in your host country. You can select a network manually by following the steps below.

Go to your phone’s Settings menu, and choose Network and Connectivity, then choose manual selection. It is important to note that this selecting a network manually varies between phones.

Roaming services offered by Airtel Uganda

  • Make and receive calls
  • Send and receive SMS
  • Browse the internet (You can Load data on airtel Uganda)
  • Load Credit for visited for Prepaid Customers
  • Data Bundles for Prepaid Customers
  • Airtel Inflight roaming services

How to activate Roaming services on Africell Uganda

1. Prepaid roaming services

The Africell Uganda’s prepaid roaming service enables its postpaid customers to travel anywhere in the world while using their mobile numbers. It requires no activation, no deposit, it is available for all Africell’s prepaid customers who may travel abroad.

2. Postpaid roaming services

You can pre-activate the roaming service on your Africell line before travelling. This can be done incase your Africell number is not activated for roaming. This roaming service can be activated on request from the customer through the Africell accounts relationship manager or by visiting the Africell Uganda official headquarters located at clement hill road plot 28-31.

Here is the full list of countries where Africell roaming is available

If you are travelling to Uganda and would like to roam in Uganda, this is how you can activate roaming services;

  • You have to confirm that your home network has a roaming agreement with MTN Uganda before you travel. Also make sure your account is approved and activated to roam
  • Check and make sure your phone will roam on MTN Uganda’s 900/1800 MHz network
  • Make sure your voicemail box is set for “remote access”.
  • Prepaid customers can carry sufficient airtime credit to last them their roaming duration.
  • Upon arrival in Uganda, turn on your phone and it will automatically select the MTN Uganda, because of its superior coverage.
  • If you don’t see this, activate roaming manually by going to Settings on your phone and continue with the activation. In case the network names have not been shown, but codes have been displayed instead, go ahead and select the code 641-10.

Remember: While dialing an international number while roaming, include the country code (Replace the starting zero).


Roaming services tend to be strikingly expensive. You spend more on Roaming services than on your daily telecom services, so, be ready to dig deep into your pockets.

ALSO READ: How to register for Airtel, MTN and Africell Mobile Money in Uganda