Airtel Zambia | Mobile phones, internet and banking

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Apologies for the quality of this picture but there was a lot going on (and it was taken on my iPhone). This is the head of one of the queues at the Airtel shop in The Arcades, Lusaka this afternoon (8/10/11). The guy in the red shirt is the Airtel person and he is multi-tasking. He is:

  1. Registering a data SIM for me for use in my iPhone (this means my Zambian number has changed to: +260 (0)9755 72175)
  2. Giving technical support to a man who is just getting a mobile dongle to work on his laptop
  3. Helping the woman in the purple cardigan withdraw money from her mobile phone bank account. Part of this process was to fill out a line in the green book which looked like a visitors book. The cash was in a standard wooden drawer by his right hand.
Incredible. This is part of the mobile phone revolution in the countries of Africa.
For the record my unlocked iPhone seems to work with my new Airtel SIM although I haven’t given it a thorough test. Basic calls and SMS work and the data side also works although it seems to be very slow even on 3G. Personal Hotspot (tethering) isn’t an option within settings. I don’t know how to get voicemail working but I will try to sort that out over the next couple of days.
Costs?
  • SIM with new number K5,000 (£0.64)
  • 30 day data bundle 300MB K95,000 (£12.20)
£1 = K7,784