Kenya mulls new currency design in 2015

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The Kenyan government plans to introduce new currency in 2015 as required by the new constitution which is against the use of an individual's picture on Kenyan money.

Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia said Sunday that the Cabinet approved the proposal that is set to be ready earliest February-May 2015.

"New currency with our country's heritage as its key features will be unveiled in the next two years," Kimemia said, adding that the Cabinet has also approved symbols to appear on the currency, colors and sizes will be unveiled to the public soon."

Article 231(4) of the constitution states that notes and coins issued by the CBK may bear images that depict of symbolize an aspect of Kenya but shall not bear any individual's portrait. Kenya started minting its own currency in 1966 with the initial denominations all bearing former president Jomo Kenyatta's portrait.

Kimemia said new currencies will be in notes of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 shillings, adding that withdrawing of current notes in 2015 will be done in phases.

"Kenyans should expect the new currency in February 2015, and thereafter withdrawal of the current currency which will be done in phases," Kimemia said.

Current denominations of banknotes and coins in circulation are 5-cent, 10-cent, 50-cent, 1-shilling, 5-shilling, 10-shilling, 20- shilling and 40-shilling coins and in note form, 50 shillings, 100 shillings, 200 shillings, 500 shillings and 1,000 shillings.

The current notes and coins in circulation carry images of the country's first President Jomo Kenyatta and his successor, Daniel Moi, except for the 40-shilling coin that carries an image of President Mwai Kibaki.

Kimemia said designs will reflect the spirit of the Constitution and the country's development goals as enshrined in Vision 2030. The Constitution bars use of portraits or images of individuals.

Last year, the CBK sought a new image for the local currency's notes and coins in adherence to the current constitution which is against the use of an individual's picture on Kenyan money.

CBK had called for called for proposals on designs whose themes reflect a new chapter in Kenya's history in light of the new constitution and depict the country's prosperity as outlined in Vision 2030.

CBK was looking for designs that include dominant physical features that reflect any aspect of the country like agriculture, sports and tourism among others.

Proposed designs should also be able to portray the nation's natural treasures, culture and heritage or include flora and fauna unique to Kenya, said the banking industry regulator.

Each denomination has a portrait of either Kenyatta or immediate former president Daniel Arap Moi at the front and a unique natural resource or economic activity theme at the back.

The last new denomination and currency design was introduced the 40 shilling coin in 2003 which had a portrait of President Mwai Kibaki despite him having said he will not change currency images to put his picture on money when he took over presidency in 2002.

The 40 shillings coin was introduced then in commemoration of 40 years of independence. In its quest for a new design, CBK has emphasized that the design elements must be unique to Kenya, attractive, socially acceptable and culturally relevant while creating harmony among Kenyans.

Despite the introduction of the new look currency, the old currency in use before the new law was implemented will still be used as legal tender.

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