african most valuable currencies

List of Strongest Currencies in Africa

The Richest Countries in Africa
The Richest Countries in Africa

Last updated on September 22nd, 2022 at 12:13 pm

Africa is the second-largest and second-most-populous continent. The continent is also where major companies in America, Europe and Asia source their raw materials.

In this post, we will compare currencies in Africa against the United State dollars and come up with the 20 strongest currencies on the continent

It should be noted that most of the African countries except a few of them depend largely on imported finished products from other continents. Some of them have indirectly imported inflation into their various economies.

Table of Contents

Africa is second to Asia in terms of land area and population. As of 2018, Africa housed 1.3 billion people, accounting for about 16 per cent of the world’s human population.

Challenges

Some of the challenges facing the continent include poor leadership, human disaster, violence and the negative effect of colonialism.

Despite all the aforementioned challenges, some of the African countries are able to put inflation in check and able to adequately manage and capitalise on the natural resources within their reach.

To a large extent, their ability to manage their resources have an effect on the value of the local currencies unlike some of them whose local currencies have embarrassing value.

For instance, Nigeria which claims to be Africa’s largest economy is in the league of weakest currencies in Africa.

What are the most valuable currencies in Africa?

On the surface, if each of the countries is adjudged by how large its economy is, one might list South African and Nigerian as the strongest, but the reverse is the case.

Some of the African countries with the strongest currencies are not as big as SA and Nigeria are in the international politics and economy.

This means it isn’t by size, but by the realistic policies that were put in place by the leadership of the countries under review.

Even the Libyan Dinar which used to be the strongest currency in Africa, a position it held for several years, has been overthrown by other smaller countries on the continent.

So…

Which African currencies are doing well and fairly against the USD?

Tunisian Dinar or TD or DT (1)

The dinar is the currency of Tunisia. Popularly called Dinar tunisien or DT because of the popular use of the French language, the currency was introduced in 1960, replacing Franc.

tunisian dinar_strongest_currency_in_africa
Tunisian dinar. Photo credit: IMF

The government of Tunisia put a lot of regulatory measures in place to curtail inflation particularly between. 2000 to 2015, and the effort is paying off as the Tunisian Dinar is now the strongest and most valuable currency in Africa.

One Tunisian Dinar is just $2.89

Libyan Dinar or LYD (2)

Until September 1971, the pound was the official currency of Libya, but the young Army officer Col Muammar Gaddafi changed the currency to the Libyan Dinar.

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The country positively utilises crude oil, one of the best in the world. Established the Libyan Arab Foreign Bank to manage overseas investment. And by 1973 Libyan Dinar was pegged at 0.29679 against the USD.

The country also did other pegging and for several years, Libyan Dinar maintained the first spot as the strongest African currency until recently it dropped to the second position.

At the time of this update, the USD to LYD is 4.58.

Ghanaian Cedi or GHS (3)

In 1983, Nigeria’s government deported over a million Ghanaians under the civilian administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. At the time, the economy of Ghana was in shamble.

Several years after, foreign investors choose Ghana over Nigeria as an investment destination. That has helped the country’s currency.

No doubt, the GHS has had its challenges, the Ghanaian Cedi is among the top five strongest currencies on the continent.

At the time of publication, one GHS to the Nigerian Naira is NGN62.44. This means 20,000 GHS is worth NGN1.2 million in Nigeria.

The Ghanaian currency isn’t only strong on the continent, but it can fairly compete with a lot of currencies outside Africa.

$1 is ₵6.52 in Ghana at the official market rate.

History has shown that a decisive crackdown on the black market rate in Ghana helped the country to have a firm control of its local currencies against the US dollar unlike a lot of African countries where the black market FX rate has hijacked the official rate from the Central Bank.

Moroccan Dirham or MAD (4)

On our number 4 position is Moroccan Dirham. One USD to MAD is 9.42. Historically, the dirham is derived from the Greek currency. The denominations include100 dirhams, 200 dirhams, 50 dirhams, and 20 dirhams

Botswana Pula (5)

When Nigeria’s economic data has failed to transform the living standard of its over 200 million people while the leadership continues to plunder the country into a generational debt, Botswana, a less popular country in global politics continues to stabilise its economy and currency.

As the number 5 most valuable currency in Africa, one Botswana’s Pula is worth NGN35.84.

$1 is just 11.51 Pula while the same one USD is worth NGN415 in Nigeria. In terms of economic management, Botswana is far ahead of Nigeria.

It’s on record that hundreds of Nigerian professors leave Nigeria for Botswana for better opportunities and they are well remunerated over there.

The pula which was introduced on 23 August 1976, has denominations like 200 pula, 100 pula, 50 pula, 10 pula, and 20 pula.

Seychelles Rupees or SCR (6)

Off East Africa is Seychelles. The country houses several attractive beaches, rare animals, coral reefs and nature reserves.

One Seychellois Rupee is worth NGN28.92 while $1 to SCR is 13.14, making it the 6th strongest currency on the continent. The country is adjudged to be the smallest country to have an independent monetary policy.

Eritrean Nakfa or ERN (7)

A breakaway country from Ethiopia is Eritrea which has several denominations both in banknotes and coins including 100 nakfa, 5 nakfa, 10 nakfa, 1 nakfa, 20 nakfa, 50 nakfa. Other include 10 cents, 1 nakfa, 1 cent, 5 cents, 50 cents, and 25 cents.

Also Read:  25 Weakest Currencies in Africa

USD to ERN is 15.07 while 1ERN is worth NGN27.7 in Nigeria.

Apart from being one of the top-performing currencies in Africa, the State of Eritrea is home to tall, elegant and charming beautiful ladies. And in case you are a polygamist, Eritrea is going to be a conducive atmosphere for you.

South African Rand or R (8)

Occupying the number 8 position is the South African Rand. One USD is worth 15.12 rand.

The R has attained a prominent position in the Common Monetary Area member states of Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini.

Although the aforementioned three countries have their own national currency, rand is still accepted.

Namibian Dollar (9)

Occupying the 9th position is the Namibian Dollar. One United States Dollar is equivalent to 15.13 Namibian dollars.

Until 1993, the South African rand was the legal tender in Namibia. Though the rand is still accepted in Namibia, a former member of the Common Monetary Area from independence in 1990 until the introduction of the dollar in 1993.

The currency is in banknotes ($200, $100, $50, $20, $10) and coins. They

Lesotho Loti or LSL (9)

On the same spot as the Namibian Dollar is the Loti, the official currency of the Kingdom of Lesotho.

One USD is 15.13 Maloti (plura of Loti). Up till today, Loti and South African Rand are legal tender in Lesotho.

Swaziland Lilangeni or SZL (11)

1 USD to SZL is E15.14. The Lilangeni has singular (L) and plural (E). as such, one might have L1, E200, E20 etc

Egyptian Pound or EGP (12)

The Egyptian Pound is the 12th most valuable currency on the continent. Even with its political challenges a few years ago, the country has been able to manage its resources like petroleum, natural gas, manganese, and limestone among others.

One US Dollar is worth 15.71 in the country. That isn’t bad compared to some countries where five thousand USD is millions of their local currency.

Zambian Kwacha or ZMW (13)

One USD is 17.63 kwacha.

Apart from its fair monetary management which put the value of the country’s currency in the 13th position on the continent, Zambia’s wide range of natural resources including uranium, copper, gold, cobalt, and silver among others are major sources of revenue.

By far, the kwacha is better than the currency of Nigeria, which claims to be a giant Africa.

São Tomé and Principe Dobra (14)

Despite its seemingly banknotes which include 10,000 dobras, 20,000 dobras, 100,000 dobras, 50,000 dobras, 5000 dobras, one US Dollar in São Tomé and Principe is just 21.85 dobra (coins)

Though, the island have no known mineral resources, its ability to claim deepwater hydrocarbon reserves in the Gulf of Guinea fetched the country several millions of dollars from foreign investors who purchased exploration concessions.

Mauritanian Ouguiya or MRO (15)

Mauritania is one of the few places in Africa where alcohol is outlawed. Despite is conversationalist policy, Ouguiya, the legal tender of Mauritania is on the 15th spot on the currencies in Africa

One USD 36.26 MRO 

Ethiopian Birr or ETB (16)

Despite the devastating inflation rate Ethiopia faced between 2008 and 2011 due to what analysts described as a monetary policy, Birr occupies the number 16 position on the list of over 50 legal tenders in Africa.

Also Read:  USD/NGN Exchange Rate May 9, 2022

One USD is worth 50.86 ETB

Gambian Dalasi or GMD (17)

As the small as The Gambia is in the West African region, its legal tender Dalasi is number 17 on the table performing better than the Nigerian naira. The Gambia gets aid from Nigeria.

One USD is 53.25 Dalasi.

Tourism ranging from beautiful beaches, wildlife, national parks in the country’s major source of revenue country. The dalasi was adopted in 1971, replacing the Gambian Pound.

Mozambican Metical or MZN (18)

One USD to Metical is 63.83

Known for its wildlife and beautiful beaches and rich in cultural heritage, Mozambique has over 40 local dialects. Portuguese is the official language.

Cape Verde Escudo or CVE (19)

Last on the list is Escudo which can only be obtained within the country because it’s a closed currency.

Cape Verde Escudo top 20 strongest currencies in Africa
Photo credit: Banknotenews.com

One US dollar is worth 97.17 in Cabo Verde. The country houses ten volcanic islands with a combined land area of about 4,033 square kilometres.

Is the Libyan Dinar still the strongest currency in Africa?

Some years back the Libyan dinar was the most valuable currency on the continent, especially when Late Gaddafi was in power. Today, the Libyan Dinar is the second on the continent.

Through the Central Bank of Libya, a strict programme was put in place to limit the number of dollars to Libyans.

And according to research, it’s on record that Libyan crude oil is one of the best in the World, thereby adding value to its exchange rate.

Why is Naira not among the strongest currencies in Africa?

Bad monetary policies and a poorly managed economy coupled with poor leadership can be attributed to the poor performance of the Naira against its competitors in the FX market.

Nigeria, with its large reserve of crude oil, can not refine the fuel it consumed. Its refineries are either “moribund” or producing below capacity

Recap:

From the analysis above, bad monetary policy can badly affect the value of a country’s currency (a case study of Nigeria). Surprisingly, some smaller African countries whose population and land area are not up to the state in Nigeria do well in terms of monetary policies

Here is how the best currencies in Africa fair against the United States Dollar

PositionCurrencyConversionValue in Local currency
1Tunisian DinarUSD to TND2.89
2Libyan DinarUSD to LYD4.58
3Ghanaian CediUSD to GHS6.52
4Moroccan DirhamUSD to MAD9.42
5Botswana PulaUSD to BWP11.51
6Seychellois RupeeUSD to SCR13.14
7Eritrean NakfaUSD to ERN15.07
8South African RandUSD to ZAR15.12
9Namibian DollarUSD to NAD15.13
10Lesotho LotiUSD to LSL15.13
11Swaziland LilangeniUSD to SZL15.14
12Egyptian PoundUSD to EGP15.71
13Zambian KwachaUSD to ZMW17.63
14São Tomé and Principe DobraUSD to Dobra21.85
15Mauritanian OuguiyaUSD to MRO36.26
16Ethiopian BirrUSD to ETB50.86
17Gambian DalasiUSD to GMD53.25
18Mozambican MeticalUSD to MZN63.83
19Cape Verde EscudoUSD to CVE97.17
This list is subject to change since some factors may affect the value of a currency in the foreign exchange market

One striking thing about the aforementioned best currencies in Africa is that 11 of them made the 2020 World Bank ranking of the best African countries to do business.

Tunisia, Ghana, Morocco, Botswana, Seychelles and South Africa had an impressive scores using several indicators. Others include Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Egypt and Zambia

Réunion Euro

With about 700km on the east of Madagascar is Reunion Island and a total area of 2,512 km² (970 mi²), it is one of the overseas territories of France.

The official currency in Réunion is EUR. However, Réunion isn’t classified as one of the African countries by the United Nations data.

As such, the official currency in Reunion can not be classified as the strongest currency on the continent.

References:

  • Featured Image collage by Canva
  • Knoema. “Guinea Bissau – Official exchange rate”. Knoema.com. Retrieved February 22, 2022
  • WorldData. “Reunion: French overseas territory”. Worlddata.info. Retrieved February 25, 2022

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