eSIM stands for Embedded SIM, which is a small, programmable chip that is embedded directly into a device such as a smartphone or tablets.
It is designed to replace the traditional SIM card, which is a removable chip that identifies and authenticates the user on a cellular network.
With eSIM, the user can switch between mobile network providers without physically changing the SIM card, which in the Kenya case will now be among Airtel, Safaricom, and Faiba.
eSIM technology is also used in other devices such as smartwatches, laptops, and IoT devices.
Kenya is the second market in Africa that supports this technology powered by Airtel. Airtel is present in 14 African countries.
How to activate
To see if your smartphone can use eSIM, start by dialing *#06# on your device and look for an EID number to appear.
If it shows up, then your device is compatible.
Next, head over to an Airtel store and speak with one of the telco’s customer service representatives, who can guide you through the eSIM setup process using a QR code.
Customers who are able to activate their eSIM today will get it for free.
Later activations will attract a fee of KES 100.
Many modern high-end devices support eSIM.
Galaxy S smartphones by Samsung starting with the S20 are supported. Modern Apple devices are supported too.
Pixel phones by Google can also take eSIM as well, but since they are not officially sold locally, you may want to check first before proceeding.
It is also worth noting that some of these devices need a software update before they can support eSIM. This is often done in collaboration with telcos, in this case, Airtel Kenya.
With eSIM, you can easily set up your device without the need for physical SIM cards, making the process seamless.
eSIM technology allows you to use multiple mobile numbers on a single device, cutting the need for carrying multiple phones around. This eliminates the stress of losing or damaging your physical SIM card.
For frequent travelers, eSIM is a convenient option as it allows for easier switching of network operators.
“With the introduction of eSIM in Kenya, Airtel continues to stay ahead of the curve where innovation is concerned about giving customers much convenience and flexibility while championing technological advancement and creating innovative platforms and opportunities that will make life simple,” said Airtel Africa Group CEO, Segun Ogunsanya during the launch.
“Customer expectations are changing, and we are confident that our customers will quickly move to our eSIM for what it delivers. Mobile users reward digital convenience therefore as a business we shall continue enabling digital transformation to deliver the full customer experience,” said Airtel Kenya’s Managing Director, Ashish Malhotra.