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The Zambian kwacha/Currency

The Zambian kwacha/Currency: The Zambian Kwacha is a decimal type of currency with K1 being made up 100 ngwee. Before Zambia' s independence in 1964, the country then known as Northern Rhodesia used the British pound as legal tender before migrating to the Kwacha in 1965. The kwacha (ISO 4217 code: ZMW) is the currency of Zambia. It is subdivided into 100 ngwee.

The name kwacha derives from the Nyanja, Bemba, and Tonga language word for "dawn", alluding to the Zambian nationalist slogan of a "new dawn of freedom". The name ngwee translates as "bright" in the Nyanja language.

Zambian kwacha History

Prior to independence, the Rhodesia and Nyasaland pound was the legal tender of the short-lived British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia. Banknotes of 10 shillings, 1, 5, and 10 pounds issued by the Central Africa Currency Board were in circulation, together with coins of ½, 1, 3, 6 pence, and 1, 2, 2½, and 5 shillings. After independence, the Bank of Zambia issued the first Zambian currency, the Zambian pound, in 1964. The issued paper bills and coins were of similar denominations as these used before independence, except for the 10 pounds note, which was never issued by the Bank of Zambia. A new design to depict the newly independent country's history and struggle was adopted. The two currencies - the Rhodesia and Nyasaland pound and the Zambian pound, were allowed to circulate in parallel until December 15, 1965, when the South Rhodesian pound bills and coins were withdrawn from circulation, except for the 3 pence coin which was allowed to circulate alongside its Zambian alternative for a brief period.

On July 1, 1966, the parliament approved the arrangements of the decimal currency system (Act 40 of 1966), changing the main currency unit to Kwacha, with one kwacha being equal to 100 ngwee. The exchange rate was set to one kwacha equivalent to ten Zambian shillings, or one half of a Zambian pound. Thus, by January 16, 1968, all Zambian pound notes and coins were removed from circulation and replaced by the new kwacha notes, and ngwee coins. The Zambian pound notes of 10 shillings, 1, and 5 pounds were changed into 1, 2 and 10 kwacha respectively, a note of 50 ngwee was issued to replace the old 5 shillings coin, alongside a new note of 20 kwacha. Ngwee coins with the denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 ngwee replacing the existing 1, 3, 6 pence, 1, and 2 shillings coins respectively. The Zambian pound notes, and coins ceased to be a legal tender on January 31, 1974.

At the very beginning, the kwacha was pegged to the pound sterling at a fixed rate of 1.7094 kwacha per 1 pound. Yet, after the devaluation of the US dollar on August 15, 1971, Zambia broke all its currency's ties to the British monetary unit, and pegged the kwacha to the American monetary unit. These reforms resulted in a reduction of the kwacha's gold standard by 7.8%. A few months later, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer Anthony Barber, announced the demise of the Sterling area, and flotation of the sterling pound, causing Zambia to renounce the monetary privileges once enjoyed as a member state.

Throughout the years, the Zambian currency suffered high rates of inflation forcing the Bank of Zambia to introduce high value denominations in 2003, including 20,000 and 50,000 kwacha bills to facilitate transactions. In 2013, a new, redenominated kwacha was introduced. The value of Zambian currency has continued to fall since redenomination; the exchange rate was 18 kwacha to one U.S. dollar as of July 2020.

The Zambian kwacha Coins

In 1968, bronze 1 and 2 ngwee and cupro-nickel 5, 10 and 20 ngwee were introduced. These coins all depicted president Kenneth Kaunda on the obverse and flora and fauna on the reverse. A twelve sided 50 ngwee coin was introduced in 1979 to replace the 50 ngwee note and featured commemorative FAO themes.

In 1982, copper-clad-steel replaced bronze in the 1 and 2 ngwee. These two were struck until 1983, with production of the 5 and 10 ngwee ceasing in 1987 and that of the 20 ngwee in 1988. Nickel-brass 1 kwacha coins were introduced in 1989 and depicted "Bank of Zambia" on the edges. The period of circulation for this coin was brief as inflation rates skyrocketed.

In 1992, a new, smaller coinage was introduced consisting of nickel-plated-steel 25 and 50 ngwee and brass 1, 5 and 10 kwacha. The coins depict the national crest on the obverse and native fauna on the reverse. The coins were issued only one year and then discontinued as the economic crisis dragged on.

All these coins, both from the older and newer series still remain legal tender. However, the value of the metal in the coins is worth more than their irrelevant face value, so they are never seen or used in normal trade. The only place coins might be seen today is when they are sold as souvenirs to tourists.

On January 1, 2013, new coins were introduced, namely for 5, 10, 50 ngwee and 1 kwacha.

Zambian kwacha/Currency Banknotes

Zambian kwacha First: The Zambian kwacha was first issued in 1968 to replace the Zambian pound. The design of the kwacha bill changed as time went on, also, different bills were either introduced in or withdrawn from circulation. Seven emissions of the first kwacha are known to exist, while only one emission of the second kwacha was introduced in circulation on January 1, 2013, and still existing since then without any changes in design or security features. Each emission share similar general features in design throughout all the banknotes, with slight changes concerning the colors and the activity based theme on the reverse of the banknotes.

First issue (1968): The first issue of the first kwacha was issued in 1968. The series comprised five banknotes of 50 ngwee, 1, 2, 10, and 20 kwacha. The obverse of the five banknotes featured a portrait of president Kenneth Kaunda in tribal outfit on the right, together with the Coat of Arms of Zambia on the left on the 50 ngwee banknote, or at upper center on the kwacha banknotes. The reverse showed different activity based themes reflecting life in Zambia. The banknotes were printed by Thomas De La Rue & Co. Limited, and bore the signature of Dr Justin B. Zulu, Bank of Zambia's second governor. Apart from the 50 ngwee banknote, the kwacha banknotes had president Kenneth Kaunda as a watermark. Specimen banknotes were issued for each denomination, with the word SPECIMEN overprint in red sans on both the obverse and reverse.

Zambian kwacha Second emission (1969–1973)

In 1969, a second emission of the Zambian kwacha was issued. Initially, the emission comprised the same five banknotes of the first emission, and all five denominations bore the signatures of Dr Justin B. Zulu, Mr Valentine S. Musakanya, and that of Mr Bitwell R. Kuwani, the second, third, and forth governors of the Bank of Zambia, respectively, except for the 50 ngwee bills that never existed with Dr Zulu's signature, as well as the 1 kwacha bills that never showed Mr Kuwani's signature.

The second emission banknotes were exactly similar to these of the first emission, except for a slight difference, in which the dot (•) between the currency symbol and the face value was removed. The banknotes were printed by Thomas De La Rue & Co. Limited, and specimen banknotes were issued for each denomination, with the word SPECIMEN overprint in red sans on both the obverse and reverse.

Commemorative Banknote of 1 Kwacha

During the second emission period, a commemorative banknote of 1 kwacha was issued in celebration of the declaration of One-party state on December 13, 1972. The banknote was not a legal tender, and had a different frame design than the banknotes of both, the first and second issues.

Later on in 1973, the Bank of Zambia issued the 5 kwacha banknote for the first time. A red-violet on multicolour underprint design was chosen for the new bill note. The new design resulted in a lot of confusion between the existing 50 ngwee bill and the new 5 kwacha one. This urged the Bank of Zambia to adopt a new design for the 50 ngwee banknotes in 1973. A new black and lilac on multicolor underprint was used for easy recognition, nevertheless, this was the last issue of the 50 ngwee banknotes as it was replaced later by a coin. The two new banknotes bore the signature of Mr Bitwell R. Kuwani, and were printed by Thomas De La Rue & Co. Limited. Specimen banknotes were issued for both denominations, with the word SPECIMEN overprint in red sans on both the obverse and reverse.


These rates are obtained from and may contradict with pegged rate mentioned above

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