The cheapest way to make cell phone calls from Africa, while you are traveling, is by getting the following:
- An unlocked GSM cell phone with flexible bandwidth (check with your local carrier to get the right phone). You can rent a GSM phone from various companies; Cellular Abroad has reasonable prices.
- Buy a local SIM card when you arrive at your African destination. This will allow you to pay local rates for calls you make. Just be informed about all the charges, including what it costs to receive calls and to make international calls.
You can also rent a phone once you are in Africa and buy a SIM card or join a local plan. This is a good option if you are staying in one country for some time, if you are volunteering for example. Just make sure you check for all hidden costs and fees.
There are also pre-paid cell phone cards, regular phone cards (you can use from a pay phone), pre-paid SIM chips, web-based phone calls -- needless to say, you have options.
Alternatively, forget the cell phone and enjoy being far from home. You can always use a travel blog or Skype to stay in touch with loved ones.
More About: Staying in Touch While Traveling in Africa