It was recommended to me by several sources also going to the Maker Faire Africa that Zain would probably be my best network to go with when picking a pay-as-you-go mobile plan for my stay in Ghana. The main reason being that they have some of the better speeds for data and pricing over the other providers here. I also found out that text messages between Zain numbers is free, although I’ll have to back that up with more research.
Well, I picked it up and the speed seems pretty good, although I don’t travel with 3G phones, so it’s impossible gauge just how much better it could be. The only problem is that the phone I brought to set up with Zain doesn’t work. It’s an unlocked Blackberry Curve. This phone is pretty much indestructible everywhere I’ve gone and whatever network I’ve wanted to use it on, but for some reason it just doesn’t work with Zain. I even made a trip to their main store on Oxford Street and the minute I pull the phone out of my bag, the girl at the counter looked at it and said, “Ah… a Blackberry. Yes, they have trouble with our network.” Thankfully I have a Nokia 6301 and a Sony Ericsson K530i that it works fine with, although not having the full keyboard does lose a bit of the appeal with internet from a phone.
But initial hookups aside, I am again reminded of how vastly superior competition is in the mobile market. The fact that I can pick up a SIM card for about $.75 USD is great. While having so many companies in a smaller market can get dizzying I suppose, it also makes them have to compete for their customer’s business. I think that the last attempt at competition in the US ended about 10 years ago. Since then, it’s all been about re-branding stuff that they already have.
I suppose that there will be mergers down the line in the African mobile scene,but I rue the day that I won’t be able to pick up a number from some guy on the corner and be able to buy phone credit every 10 meters I step.