Phone Calls in Kenya

How to make (cheap) phone calls in Kenya? In general, Kenya’s communications system is relatively good and there are many ways to make phone calls.

The international access code for calling to Kenya from another country, is +254. If you’re calling from Kenya to another country, dial 000 before dialing the international access code (but dial 006 for Uganda and 007 for Tanzania).


Regular Landlines

The number of landlines is much lower than the number of mobile phones, which has skyrocketed in Kenya (see below). There’s a flat charge for international calls, around 90 dollar cents on peak hours and 64 dollar cents outside peak hours.

Calls to Tanzania and Uganda are counted as long-distance calls, not international calls. From bigger cities, it’s usually possible to make direct international phone calls. Otherwise, it’s through a phone operator. The rate is the same but there’s a 3-minute minimum calling charge.

Calling Cards

Calling cards (from Telkom) are easy as you can use them with any phone. They are a fraction more expensive than making direct calls through a landline. Calling cards come in various denominations, are available in post offices and shops throughout the country, and you can use these with any phone.

First dial 0844, enter the card number and the pass code that you have to scratch off the card, then the phone number you want to reach. With each minute you call, the credit on the card is reduced until it’s gone.

Public Phone Boxes

There are two types of public phone boxes: red ones work with shilling coins and blue ones with calling cards.

Calls from your Hotel

Hotels add an extra charge of up to 100% to the regular calling costs, which varies per hotel – check the rates before calling.

Collect Calls

Collect phone calls in Kenya - where the person you're calling is paying - are possible to those countries that have set up a free number through which you can call the operator in the country you’re trying to reach. These include:

  • Canada: 0800-220114
  • New Zealand: 0800-220641
  • Switzerland: 0800-220411
  • United Kingdom: 0800-220441
  • United States: 0800-111

It’s not possible to make collect calls from public phone boxes, however.

Mobile Phones

Kenya has a good mobile phone network – the number of mobile phone users in Kenya had skyrocketed to over 8 million at the end of 2006. The areas where the bulk of tourists are staying, all have roaming. Rates depend on your own mobile phone company and can be high – check them before you leave.

Be aware that Kenya uses the GSM 900 system, which is compatible with European mobile phones but not with American or Canadian phones (which work on the 850/1900 system). A way to make cheap mobile phone calls within Kenya, is buying a SIM card from Telkom or Safaricom. Your mobile phone has to be SIM-lock-free for this. You can also buy a mobile phone in Kenya, starting from around KSH 2500 (USD 40). More tips and details on my cell phone page.

VOIP

A new way to make cheap phone calls in Kenya, is through VOIP. This stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol and means that you're calling over internet connections, with lower or even zero cost for you. See my VOIP in Kenya page.

Related Pages:

Kenya: Internet Access
Mobile Phone Network in Kenya

VOIP Providers in Kenya

Kenya Travel: Practical Things

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