• Covid-19, as the disease is formally known as is spreading like wildfire across the globe infecting and affecting everything on its path.
  • The Kenyan shilling is coronavirus’s latest victim and has dipped to a five-month low in its trading against the US dollar. 
  • So in such a world where currencies are so fluid one minute you’re a millionaire and the next minute you’re a pauper, what’s a safer bet to trade in than a head of cattles.

Currencies across the globe are coming crashing down because of the deadly coronavirus. Covid-19, as the disease is formally known as is spreading like wildfire across the globe infecting and affecting everything on its path.

The Kenyan shilling is coronavirus latest victim and has dipped to a five-month low in its trading against the US dollar. The shilling closed the day on Tuesday at Ksh.103.85 having traded at a Ksh.103.55 average across the day to register a low seen last in mid-October 2019.

So in such a world where currencies are so fluid one minute you’re a millionaire and the next minute you’re a pauper, what’s a safer bet to trade in than a head of cattles.

In 2017 Chad took a $100m (£82m) debt from Angola and proposed repaying the debt not with cash but cattle.

Chadian President Idriss Déby. (WebTV)
Chadian President Idriss Déby. (WebTV)

Chad, a landlocked north central African country is described by the World Health Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) as a ‘livestock farming country per excellence’ and boost about 94 million head of cattle.

Livestock accounts for 30% of Chad’s exports and is its main source of foreign exchange after oil.

However, like many oil producing countries who end up relying heavily on oil proceeds, Chad’s economy remains fragile and vulnerable to considerable risk, such as oil price volatility. Regional insecurity caused by militant Islamist groups operating in the region also leaves the country exposed hence why the Angolan deal.

The unusual agreement is a win-win situation for both nations since Chad is short of cash while Angola needs cattle.

Cars drive past the Ruacana Cinema in Huambo, Angola's second city, 600 km (373 miles) southeast of Luanda.
Cars drive past the Ruacana Cinema in Huambo, Angola's second city, 600 km (373 miles) southeast of Luanda.

Although oil rich, Angola is still striving to recover from the legacy of a 27-year civil war that ravaged the country after independence. To make life even harder the country was hit by a severe drought in 2019, causing animals to die of hunger and thirst and leaving many villagers destitute.

An estimated 2.3 million people were affected by drought in the provinces of Namibe, Huila, Bie and Cunene - nearly half a million of which are children under 5 years of age, according to unicef.

Angola agreed to the deal because it would help the southern African state rebuild its cattle population in drought-affected areas, Jornal de Angola reported, the state-run daily paper said.

Livestock accounts for 30% of Chad’s exports and is its main source of foreign exchange after oil. (saracreta)
Livestock accounts for 30% of Chad’s exports and is its main source of foreign exchange after oil. (saracreta)

On 15th March 2019, the first installment of 1,000 cows arrived in Luanda and was delivered to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Another shipment of 3,500 heads of cattle is expected later this month. In total, the deal would see 75,000 cows sent to Angola over 10 years.

With the deal on, each cow works out as having a value of around US$1333.

Barter Trade

Bartering dates all the way back to 6000 BC. (yukepo)
Bartering dates all the way back to 6000 BC. (yukepo)

Bartering dates all the way back to 6000 BC when it was introduced by Mesopotamia tribes before being adopted by the Phoenicians.

In early civilizations, common agreed-upon goods, such as animal skins or salt, served as a currency that individuals could exchange for goods and services.

The primary difference between barter and currency systems is that a currency system uses an agreed-upon form of paper or coin money as an exchange system rather than directly trading goods and services through bartering.

Bartering makes it easier to negotiate but lacks the flexibility of a currency system.