Why some African countries don't print their own money

Kenya is among 9 African countries able to print their own currency

A bank clerk cheking old-issue currency bills received from a client to exchange for new-issue tender at a branch of a local bank in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, September 30, 2019.  (Photo by TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images)

In a continent of about 54 countries, less than 10 have the capacity to print their own currencies or mint their own coins.

Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya, Algeria, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Sudan, and Zimbabwe are the only countries that have set up private companies and state-owned enterprises printing banknotes.

As of now, about 40 countries print their money in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

According to German media company Deutsche Welle, British banknote printing giant De La Rue, Sweden-based Crane AB, and Germany's Giesecke+Devrient are among the top firms that African central banks partner with.

According to DW, Ethiopia, Libya and Angola along with 14 other countries place orders from De La Rue. Six or seven other nations including South Sudan, Tanzania and Mauritania are said to print theirs in Germany.

Most French-speaking African countries are known to print their money with France's central bank and with the French printing company Oberthur Fiduciaire.

In 2018, the Liberian government announced it had literally lost Ksh11 billion ($104million).

The banknotes had been ordered by Liberia's central bank from printers overseas and had disappeared after passing through the country's main port and airport.

In 2018, the cost of printing new Kenyan currency shot by over 50% to Sh15 billion. The increase in cost was partly attributed to delays and the introduction of a new coat of varnish by the printer.

The new varnish was used to reduce wear and tear and prolong the life of the new currency. Initially, the printing of the new currency by De La Rue International had been estimated to be Sh5 billion.


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