What is the Currency of Zambia?

By Oishimaya Sen Nag on May 15 2018 in Economics

The 100-kwacha note features the National Assembly Building as well as an African buffalo.

Zambia is a Southern African country with Lusaka as its capital. Zambia has an estimated GDP per capita of $3,982. Nearly 60.5% of the population live below the poverty line. The country suffers from a high unemployment rate. Subsistence farming is one of the most important economic activities in the country.

The currency of Zambia is called the Kwacha and one Kwacha is subdivided into 100 Ngwee. The words Kwacha and Ngwee mean ‘dawn’ and ‘bright’ in the local languages of Zambia. The terms thus symbolize the freedom of the country from the oppressive colonial rule of the Europeans.

Development of the Currency of Zambia

Prior to Zambia’s independence from British rule in 1964, banknotes and coins issued by the Central Africa Currency Board were used in the region. The currency was known as the Rhodesia and Nyasaland pound. Following independence, the new currency of the country, the Zambian pound was launched. The coins and banknotes of this currency maintained the previously used denominations with the exception of the 10 pounds note. For a while, the previous currency and the new one were allowed to circulate in parallel. However, in 1965, most of the previous currency’s notes and coins were withdrawn from circulation.

The decimalization of the currency was introduced by the government of Zambia in 1966. The same year, the new currency unit of Kwacha was launched. One Kwacha was equal to 100 ngwe and one half of a Zambian pound. Within two years, by January 1968, the Kwacha and ngwe became well-established and the coins and banknotes of the Zambian pound were no longer in circulation. By 1974, the old currency ceased to be a legal tender.

Zambian Banknotes

The design of the Zambian kwacha underwent several changes over time since its first introduction in 1968. The different bills of the currency were also introduced and withdrawn over the years. The first kwacha was released through seven different emissions while the second one was released only once. Currently, the second kwacha that was released on the first of January, 2013, is still in circulation in the country.

The new banknotes come in denominations of 2-, 5-, 10-, 20-. 50-, and 100-kwacha notes. The observe of all 6 banknotes feature the Zambian coat of arms, a unique indigenous tree, and an African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer), the national bird of Zambia, as well as Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Sudan.

The reverse of each of the 6 banknotes feature a unique image of Zambian life, the Freedom Statue, as well as a Zambian animal. The 2-kwacha note features women in a market place as well as a roan antelope. The 5-kwacha note features a cassava plant and tuber, as well as a lion. The 10-kwacha note features farmers in a wheat field as well as a porcupine. The 20-kwacha note features miners in a copper mine as well as a black lechwe. The 50-kwacha note features the bank of Zambia headquarters as well as a leopard. Finally, the 100-kwacha note features the National Assembly Building as well as an African buffalo.

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