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54 Countries in Africa and Their Currencies

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In the pre-colonial era, African countries adopted their own means of exchange. For instance, in Nigeria, there was trade by barter system.

In layman’s words, trade by barter is using your own goods in exchange for other goods you’re in need of. This means, that if you have a cup of garri and you need a cup of beans, you’d have to look for someone who had beans and who is in need of garri.

This is still being practised in some communities across Africa, nationally, the trade by barter system has been replaced by legal tender globally known as “currency”.

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Currency is the medium of exchange that is accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in global trade.

Today, all African countries have their currency backed by law, circulated as banknotes and coins which they use for socio-economic activities.

Means of Trade Exchange During the Pre-colonial Era in Africa

  • Foodstuffs
  • Shells
  • Salt
  • Cattle
  • Goats
  • Ingots
  • Gold
  • Arrowheads,
  • Axes,
  • Beads
  • Iron,
  • Blankets,
  • Slaves

New Face of African Currencies

In the 1950s and 60s, some of the African countries began to gain Independence.

Some of them changed their currency’s appearance when a new government takes power (often the new head of state will appear on banknotes), though the notional value remains the same.

Also, in many African currencies, there have been episodes of rampant inflation, resulting in the need for currency revaluation e.g. the Zimbabwe dollar, which is among the top weakest currencies in Africa.

Due to the mismanagement of their resources due to poor leadership on the continent, most of the currencies in Africa lost their value except the Tunisian dinar and Libyan Dinar. At a time, the Libyan dinar was the strongest currency on the continent for decades before it was relegated to the second position by the Tunisian currency.

The poor valuation of some of the African currencies culminated in some of them pegging their currency to the US dollar.

1USD was N0.658 in 1972 during the regime of Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), today. 1USD to Naira is at least NGN415 at the CBN exchange rate (you can check our History of US Dollar to Naira CBN Exchange Rate from 1972 till date)) while $1 is worth at least NGN580 (buy) and NGN590 or more (sell) at the black market rate, a speculative market that dominates Nigeria’s FX market.

Trading Currencies Against Stable Currency

In what can be described as Blackmarket exchange market (which is illegal), most African countries now have a free market where dollars, Pounds, Euro are traded.

Hundreds of traders make millions from the venture, which has some negative effects on their economy.

Attempt on regional currency

There had been several plans to adopt a unified regional currency. But such moves failed because of the political will among member countries.

For instance, there was a planned West African Monetary Zone among Anglophone African countries planned for implementation in 2009. It failed.

Also, member countries of the East African Community planned to introduce a single currency, the East African shilling in 2012.

Does this hinder trade with African countries?

Definitely, NO. You can engage any African country in global trade.

List of Currencies In Africa, Code And Currency Sign

There are 54 countries in Africa according to the United Nations data while there are four dependent territories. 

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Country Currency Code Symbol
Algeria (Dinar) DZD DA
Angola (Kwanza) AOA KZ
Benin Republic (CFA Franc)   XOF
Botswana (Pula) BWP P
Burundi (Burundi Franc) BIF FBu
Burkina Faso ( CFA Franc) XOF CFA
Egypt (Pound) EGP
DR Congo (Francs) CDF FC
Djibouti (Djibouti Franc) DJF Fdj
Equatorial Guinea (CFA Franc BEAC) XAF FCFA
Cameroon (CFA Franc BEAC) XAF FCFA
Cape Verde (Cape Verde Escudo) CVE $
Central African Republic (CFA Franc) XAF FCFA
Chad  (CFA Franc) XAF FCFA
Comoros (Comoros Franc) KMF CF
Cote d’Ivoire (CFA Franc) XOF CFA
Eritrea (Eritrean Nakfa) ERN Nkf
Ethiopia (Birr) ETB Br
Gabon (CFA Franc) XAF FCFA
Gambia (Dalasi) GMD D
Ghana (Cedi) GHS GH₵
Libya (Dinar) LYD LD
Madagascar (Malagasy ariary) MGA Ar
Malawi (Kwacha) MWK K
Liberia (Dollar) LRD  L$, LD$
Guinea-Bissau (Guinea-Bissau Peso) GWP CFA
Guinea (Franc) GNF FG
Kenya (Shillings ) KES KSh
Lesotho (Loti) LSL L or M
Mali (CFA Franc) XOF CFA
Mauritania (Ouguiya) MRO  
Mauritius (Rupees) MUR Rs
Morocco (Dirham) MAD DH
Mozambique (Metical) MZN MT
Namibia (Dollar)  NAD $, N$
Niger (CFA Franc)  XOF CFA
Nigeria (Naira) NGN N
Republic of the Congo (Franc) XAF FCFA
Zimbabwe (Dollar) ZWD K
Sierra Leone (Leone) SLL Sl
Somalia (Shillings) SOS Sh
Seychelles (Rupees) SCR SR
Senegal (CFA Franc) XOF CFA
São Tomé and Principe (Dobra) STD Db
Rwanda (Franc) RWF FRw, RF, R₣
South Sudan (Pound) SSP SS£
Sudan (Pound) SDG SDG
Swaziland (Lilangeni) SZL  
South Africa (Rand) ZAR R
Tanzania (Shillings) TZS TSh
Togo  (CFA Franc) XOF CFA
Tunisia (Dinar) TND DT
Zambia ( Kwacha) ZMW K
Uganda (Shillings) UGX USh
     

 

Dependent territories in Africa

As stated earlier, there are four dependent territories on the African continent. The listed below and their claimant

TerritoriesClaimants
ReunionFrance
Saint HelenaUnited Kingdom
MayotteFrance
Western Saharadisputed

Reunion is the most confusing of them all, some people think Reunion is an African country, but it is not. Reunion is one of the oversees territories of France.

Final thought:

On the global scene, less than 5 of the African currencies perform fairly well. Within the continent, the Tunisian dinar and Libyan Dinar remain the strongest,

For instance, just 10K Libyan Dinar will fetch you NGN863, 904 in Nigerian currency. This doesn’t mean that the Naira is the weakest on the continent, but its economic strength hasn’t shown any significant power in its currency.

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