Ethiopia introduces replacement paper currency series, new denomination
- Published: Sep 27, 2020, 8 AM
The Ethiopian government introduced a new currency series on Sept. 14 in which it replaced the current 10-, 50-, and 100-birr notes and introduced a new 200-birr denomination. No change was made to the 5-birr note since it will soon be replaced by a coin.
The National Bank of Ethiopia, facing a struggling economy, was straightforward in its initial announcement when it said there were three reasons behind the move: “gathering currency circulating informally and outside of financial institutions; curb corruption and contraband; and support financial institutions (to) confront currency shortage.”
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the country is spending spent 3.7 billion birrs ($101.2 million U.S.) to print the new currency that it claims is better designed, with better security features, a quality of paper that will have more longevity, and will “end the menace of counterfeiting.”
The new notes may be confusing since they are completely different in design and color from the ones they are replacing. The 10-birr note is green instead of brown, the 50 red rather than yellow, and the 100-birr note is now blue not green. The new 200-birr bank note is lilac and features native fauna on each side. The other designs reflect various social, economic, and cultural aspects of the country.
The old and new notes will circulate together for three months, during which time people are being urged to exchange the old for the new with caveats earlier imposed that said a company or individual can keep cash only up to 1.5 million birrs ($41,000), and that not more than 100,000 birrs ($2,737) in cash could be withdrawn from banks.
The sum of 100 birr is worth about $2.73 in U.S. funds
The bank also revealed that although Ethiopia has never had a symbol to represent its currency, a new symbol has been designed and soon will be unveiled to represent the birr.
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