Kenyans will be waking up to new-look coins after the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) yesterday unveiled a fresh design.
The new generational coins are meant to do away with images of individuals on the Kenyan currency, in line with a constitutional requirement.
Of note is a decision to do away with the Sh40 denomination coin that was introduced by former President Mwai Kibaki, and conspicuously bore his image.
“Notes and coins issued by the CBK may bear images that depict or symbolise Kenya or an aspect of Kenya, but shall not bear the portrait of any individual,” reads Section 231(4) of the 2010 Constitution.
The Sh1 coin will now bear the image of a giraffe, the Sh5 coin a rhino, the Sh10 a lion and the Sh20 coin will spot an elephant.
The coins have also been minted with embossed features that will make them easy to identify.
“The design features meet CBK’s technical requirements, serves the public aspirations and captures the spirit of the Constitution,” CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge said during their unveiling.
The new currency will replace previous coinage that was first printed in 1966. The coinage carried the portrait of the first President Jomo Kenyatta on the front, while diverse scenes have portrayed the different economic activities that Kenyans undertake took the back.
According to Dr Njoroge, the new coins are going to circulate alongside the old ones as the old ones are slowly phased out.
Njoroge said that while trying to play down fears that the current coins could become invalid and lose value.
While emphasising this point, Njoroge quoted the Constitution, which closes any avenues through which legitimately issued currency can lose value by saying: “Nothing in Article 231(4) affects the validity of coins and notes issued before the effective date.”
According to the CBK, banknotes account for 97 per cent and coins three per cent of all currency in circulation, as of June 30, last year.
In terms of components, banknotes in circulation increased by 12 per cent from 474 million pieces in the year to June 30, 2016, to 531 million pieces in the year to June 30, 2017.
“In the coming days we are going to launch public awareness campaigns educating the public on the features of the new coinage, which will circu late along with the coins previously issued,” Njoroge said.
But it looks like it is not yet time for Njoroge to pop the champagne after winning a court case that had challenged CBK’s decision to award the currency printing tender to British firm De La Rue.
The new coins have already sparked protest from the Consumer Federation of Kenya Secretary General Stephen Mutoro, who has questioned how the designs were chosen.
Mr Mutoro had written to the Governor demanding that Kenyans be involved in coming up with the designs.
He had even proposed that a task-force be set up to verify the images that were to be used.
Njoroge, however, countered Mutoro’s concerns by asserting that the public was involved at all levels.
“CBK invited the public to give their views on the design elements. Having consulted widely, CBK considered and selected the most appropriate of them,” Njoroge said.
Despite the erosion of the value and buying power of the one shilling coin, it will continue to feature among Kenyans.
President Uhuru Kenyatta praised the CBK for ensuring the shilling remained stable and competitive, allowing Kenya to compete in the global economy.
By August, there was about Sh3.2 trillion in circulation, 44 per cent of which was coin and bank notes and money in current accounts, which can be withdrawn without prior notice.
The rest of money was either locked up in deposit accounts or was in foreign currency.
Currency that is damaged is usually removed from circulation when CBK receives it through commercial banks.