If you want to change mobile networks in South Africa, here’s how to port your number to any network.
This article will cover major networks like Cell C, MTN, Vodacom, Telkom Mobile and Melon Mobile. I recently ported my Telkom Mobile business line to Melon Mobile but I’m still a Vodacom prepaid customer for my personal line. I run two lines, one being an eSIM, which I cover extensively on Recharged.
Before I continue, you may find these articles useful:
- How to: Run two Whatsapps on one phone:
- All my eSIM articles:
Given that I just ported to Melon, I will lead with that. Melon runs on the MTN network but is completely independent when it comes to access, billing, support, customer care, etc. It is only accessible through its Android or iOS app and you need an active account to port to.
I wrote the rest of this article for the now defunct Business Insider South Africa, which shut down in Feb 2023. The article sits in the News24 archives, but this is the most up-to-date list.
Port to Melon Mobile
Once you register, order a free physical SIM/eSIM, and self-RICA, you will have an active account and number to port to. This is the equivalent of buying a starter pack.
On the Melon Mobile app, head to “Home”, then “Line”, and click on “Keep you number”. Fill your current mobile number and wait for a text from your existing network to confirm the port and follow instructions accordingly. All the networks need you to reply to confirm, except Telkom Mobile (you reply to reject).
Wait to lose network on the current line, then open the Melon app and follow instructions to remove the old SIM/turn off eSIM and insert the new Melon SIM/turn on eSIM. You may need to restart your phone. NB: porting takes place between 7-11pm the same evening if you port before 4pm.
*I started my porting process at 11am, and by 7:38pm that evening, I lost signal and activated the Melon eSIM. I found it seamless and not disruptive on the 7-11pm window considering it was a business number. I subsequently edited the Melon eSIM to reflect my former Telkom number on iPhone and deleted the Telkom profile.
Port to Cell C
Purchase a Cell C starter pack in store and complete the RICA process. On your existing number, SMS your new SIM serial number to 084 767 8287. You will receive two confirmation SMSs.
Wait for your old SIM to lose network and then insert the new SIM.
Port to MTN
Purchase a new prepaid MTN SIM but do not open the starter pack and complete the RICA process. From your existing number, SMS “PortMe#” followed by your new MTN number to 083 767 8287. You will receive an SMS confirming if the request was authorised or declined.
The next day you can insert the new MTN SIM card into your mobile device and dial 136 to activate it.
Port to Telkom
A new prepaid Telkom SIM or eSIM is free from any Telkom branch, just complete the RICA process. From your existing SIM, SMS “PORTME# ID Number# ICCID#” to 081 160 7678. The ICCID is the 20-digit number found on the new SIM or eSIM starter pack.
If you’re using a physical SIM, wait for it to go offline from your old provider, it should take 1-2 days, and then insert your new Telkom SIM into your phone and you should be connected.
If you’re switching to an eSIM, you will need to scan a QR code and wait for connectivity to appear on your phone. In this instance, your physical SIM slot will then be free to add any other (data) SIM.
Port to Vodacom
Purchase a new prepaid Vodacom SIM card complete the RICA process. On your existing number, SMS the word “portme” followed by your new SIM number you just purchased to 082 767 8287.
You will receive two SMSs: a confirmation, and a porting date. Then dial 136 after your port date to activate your new SIM card.
Hope you found this article useful. Let me know if you any questions in the comments section. Feel free to share this article with someone who may need assistance with porting.
Recharged is an independent site that focuses on technology, electric vehicles, and the digital life by Nafisa Akabor. Drawing from her 16-year tech journalism career, expect news, reviews, how-tos, comparisons, and practical uses of tech that are easy to digest. email@example.com