New currency notes to be issued by May 2018

A bunch of the current notes. e government is planning to replace them from next year. / COURTESY
A bunch of the current notes.  e government is planning to replace them from next year. / COURTESY

The new generation currency notes will be issued before the end of May 2018, the Central Bank of Kenya has said.

“We are moving ahead with the production and issuance of the new generation currency consistent with the constitution,” CBK governor Patrick Njoroge said. “We expect, according to our current timeline, to issue the new currency sometime in the second quarter of 2018.”

This means that Kenyans will have to wait till next year to use the new currency notes which were scheduled for rollout in September 2017 after missing the planned August 2015 constitutional deadline.

Following the passing of the 2010 constitution, CBK was mandated to spearhead the production and roll-out of the new currency notes.

The constitution prohibits the use of a person’s portrait on currencies meaning the upgrade is expected to have new features. Notes currently in circulation have the images of first President Jomo Kenyatta and his successor Daniel arap Moi.

The new-look notes should also be fashioned to enable the visually-impaired to use them. They are expected to be in notes of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 shillings.

Introduction of the new currency should be followed by an immense public campaign to sensitise citizens on the rollout, leading to the withdrawal of the current notes in circulation.

“With regards to the phasing out of old currency, we are not there yet. That is something we will deal with when that moment comes,” Njoroge said.

The government estimates that it will cost Sh18 billion to withdraw the currency currently in circulation, over a three-year period.

In its first attempt, the regulator faced obstacles in the roll-out process after bidders quoted a zero price forcing CBK to cancel the tenders.

Among the firms that had been pre-qualified to print the new banknotes were British printer De La Rue, its competitor French firm Oberthur Fiduciaire, German banknote printer Giesecke & Devrient and American firm Crane Currency.

Last week, De La Rue moved to court, challenging CBK’s move to invite tenders from foreign firms to print the new-design currency arguing the move would lead to irreversible harm to the local industry.

The currency printing firm accused CBK of unlawfully restricting the minting process to foreign entities in violation of mandatory requirements citing higher national security risk in the failure to consider benefits of local production and destruction of the old notes. CBK was however let off on Tuesday after High Court judge Chacha Mwita rejected the application by DeLaRue. The case will be mentioned on November 30.