Kenya introduces new banknotes to curb corruption

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced that the country’s currency is to be replaced with a new generation of banknotes.

Kenyans must return their 1,000 shilling ($10; £8) notes to banks by 1 October, in a bid to fight money laundering, counterfeits and corruption.

New currency is to be brought in over the coming months with other denominations being phased out gradually.

Some Kenyans have expressed anger over the new banknote design, which features an image of a statue of Kenya’s first President, Jomo Kenyatta – the current president’s father.

The decision on the design, as well as the clampdown on the

1,000 shilling notes, has been challenged in court.

Kenya New Currency

Kenya is withdrawing the note to crack down on embezzlement and tackle a wave of counterfeit 1,000 shilling notes.

The governor of Kenya’s central bank, Patrick Njoroge, also expressed “grave concern” over larger banknotes being used for “illicit financial flows in Kenya and also other countries in the region”.

The 1,000 shilling note is the highest value note in Kenya and according to Mr Njoroge, the Kenyan shilling is the equivalent to the US dollar in east Africa, in terms of its recognition.

President Kenyatta promised to stamp out corruption when he was elected in 2013.

But his critics say there have been few convictions since then, especially of high-profile people.

BBC Africa business reporter Georgie Ndirangu says the demonetisation – the withdrawal of a coin, note, or precious metal from use as legal tender – is seen as a direct response to this criticism.

Officials and well connected businessmen in corrupt cartels are believed to hold hundreds of millions of illegally obtained shillings in cash, and withdrawing the 1,000 shilling note is expected to close many money-laundering avenues, as they have to be exchanged for the new currency, he said.


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