Afrihost relaunched its AirMobile products on Monday, 5 February 2024, along with a new smartphone app and eSIM support that lets customers sign up online and get connected without visiting a store to RICA.
We tested Afrihost’s new systems, and they worked excellently.
Some customers did report running into issues preventing them from going through the web-based RICA procedure on launch day.
However, the app worked, and Afrihost assured it was working on its launch-day teething problems.
(For international readers who might come across this while looking for a mobile service to use while visiting our beautiful country, RICA is South African for “know your customer,” i.e. proof of identity, proof of address, and contact information.)
When launching the AirMobile app for the first time, you are presented with two options: Sign up for a new SIM, and port your existing number.
We tested signing up for a new SIM.
The app then prompts you to choose between an eSIM or a physical SIM and lets you log in with your existing Afrihost account.
If you haven’t set up an Afrihost RICA profile before, you’ll have to provide your name, email, contact number, and passport or South African ID number.
You will then be prompted to provide a physical address.
After you have completed your order, you will be prompted to submit a scan or photo of your ID document and proof that you live at the address.
You must also take a selfie while holding the ID document that you sent a copy of.
You don’t have to do this immediately — you have until midnight on the day you signed up to provide the necessary documents.
Failing to do so will result in the connection being suspended.
Once the AirMobile eSIM is ordered, you will be taken to a screen showing that your package is being processed.
I immediately received a welcome email and a separate email with the QR code for my eSIM.
You must navigate to the relevant menu on your smartphone to scan the QR code and install the eSIM (on iOS 17.2.1 and 17.3, this was under Settings->Mobile Service).
After scanning the QR code, it took a few seconds for the eSIM to install.
Upon turning on the SIM, I was immediately assigned a new phone number.
Unfortunately, the eSIM installs with MTN’s default APN settings, not AirMobile’s.
However, as soon as my connection was activated, Afrihost sent an SMS with the correct APN settings.
After my RICA was validated and I set the new AirMobile APN, my phone automatically switched to MTN’s 5G network, and the network ID changed to “AirMobile”.
Funny enough, in the places where I tested the service, I saw faster speed tests using the LTE network than 5G.
This happened whether using MTN’s network directly or AirMobile, suggesting that the speed difference was due to how MTN’s radio access network was configured — not Afrihost.
Overall, Afrihost’s new AirMobile app and eSIM onboarding are slick.
South Africa’s major mobile network operators may want to take a few notes for their own apps.