In our modern era of email, Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp, there are countless different ways to get in contact with friends or family overseas without having to make a traditional phone call. However, when planning a trip to Africa, you may find that you want to speak over the phone with a travel agent or hotelier to make arrangements before your arrival. If this is the case, you'll need to know the country code of the country you're calling, and add it to the phone number before dialing. You'll also need the correct international dialing code.
The latter depends on where you're calling from. If you're dialing from the United States, Canada or the Caribbean, for example, you'll preface the country code and regional telephone number with the digits 011. If you're calling from Europe (and most other countries including the majority of those in Africa, Asia and the Middle East), you'll use 00 instead. Next, you'll need the individual country code, followed by the phone number as it's listed on the agent or hotelier's website. Don't forget to drop the first zero from this regional phone number.
For example, if you're trying to dial the number 021 437 9010 in South Africa, you would start with 011 or 00 (depending on where you are), followed by the South African country code (27), followed by the local number with the first zero taken off. Therefore, if you're calling from the United States, the correct number to dial would be 011 27 21 437 9010. If you're calling from the United Kingdom, it would be 00 27 21 437 9010. These rules apply to cell phone numbers as well as landlines.
Top Tip: When calling someone in Africa, make sure to check the time difference. Cape Town is six hours ahead of New York, for example, so phoning on your commute home from the office will probably mean waking the intended recipient of your call from a peaceful night's sleep.
African Country Codes
Burkina Faso: 226
Cape Verde: 238
Central African Republic: 236
Comoros Islands: 269
Democratic Republic of the Congo: 243
Equatorial Guinea: 240
Ivory Coast: 225
Sao Tome & Principe: 239
Sierra Leone: 232
South Africa: 27
South Sudan: 211
If you're already halfway through a Nile river cruise or deep in the bush on a Kenyan safari and want to make a phone call to friends or family in your own country, check out this helpful article for top tips on contacting home while traveling through Africa.