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Zambian kwacha

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Zambian kwacha

Zambian kwacha
ISO 4217 code ZMW
Central bank Bank of Zambia
 Website .zm.bozwww
User(s)  Zambia
Inflation 8.7%
 Source The World Factbook, 2011 est.
 1/100 ngwee
Symbol ZMK
 Freq. used 5, 10, 50 ngwee and 1 kwacha
 Freq. used 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 kwacha

The kwacha (ISO 4217 code: ZMW) is the currency of Zambia. It is subdivided into 100 ngwee.


The name derives from the Nyanja word for "dawn", alluding to the Zambian nationalist slogan of a "new dawn of freedom". The name ngwee translates as "bright" in the Nyanja language.


In 1968, the kwacha, a decimal type currency replaced the short lived pound at a rate of 2 kwacha = 1 pound (10 shillings = 1 kwacha). During the Kenneth Kaunda regime the value of the currency was fixed at a rate of approximately 1.2 kwacha to 1 USD. During the late eighties and early nineties a severe economic crisis emerged stemming from poor government oversight and overspending. As a result the currency suffered from high inflation throughout the 1990s and 2000s. By 2006, it took 4,800 kwacha to buy one U.S. Dollar.

As of March 8, 2011, 1 US dollar was equal to 4,715 kwacha.[1]

As of January 23, 2012, 1 US dollar was equal to 5,120 kwacha [2]

2013 Rebasing

On 22 August 2012 the Bank of Zambia issued a press release stating that the changeover date for the rebased currency had been set as 1 January 2013.[1][2] The new ISO code will be ZMW (formerly ZMK). Initial reaction to the move was positive. Razia Khan, head of Africa research at Standard Chartered commented saying, “The rebasing might be kwacha positive, to the extent that it is a continued commitment to low, and stable inflation”. On January 1, 2013 the new Zambian Kwacha was introduced at a rate of 1000 old kwacha = 1 new kwacha.[3] Until June 30, 2013 the old notes will remain legal tender alongside the new kwacha notes.[4]


5 kwacha in 1992
Coat of arms Value

In 1968, bronze 1 and 2 ngwee and cupro-nickel 5, 10 and 20 ngwee were introduced. These coins all depicted president Kenneth Kaunda on the obverse and flora and fauna on the reverse. A twelve sided 50 ngwee coin was introduced in 1979 to replace the 50 ngwee note and featured commemorative FAO themes.

( click for image).

In 1982, copper-clad-steel replaced bronze in the 1 and 2 ngwee. These two were struck until 1983, with production of the 5 and 10 ngwee ceasing in 1987 and that of the 20 ngwee in 1988. Nickel-brass 1 kwacha coins were introduced in 1989 and depicted "Bank of Zambia" on the edges. The period of circulation for this coin was brief as inflation rates skyrocketed.

In 1992, a new, smaller coinage was introduced consisting of nickel-plated-steel 25 and 50 ngwee and brass

1, 5 and 10 kwacha. The coins depict the national crest on the obverse and native fauna on the reverse. The coins were issued only one year and then discontinued as the economic crisis dragged on.

All these coins, both from the older and newer series still remain legal tender. However, the value of the metal in the coins is worth more than their irrelevant face value, so they are never seen or used in normal trade. The only place coins might be seen today is when they are sold as souvenirs to tourists.

On January 1, 2013 new coins were introduced, namely for 5, 10, 50 Ngwee and 1 Kwacha.[5]

Coins of the new Kwacha (2013 series)

Denomination Dates
5 ngwee 2013–present
10 ngwee 2013–present
50 ngwee 2013–present
1 kwacha 2013–present
Coins of the Zambian kwacha (2012 "Revaluation" issue)
Value Technical parameters Description Date of issue
Diameter Thickness Composition Edge Obverse Reverse Date
5 ngwee 19 mm 1.55 mm Nickel-plated steel Plain Coat of arms of Zambia Zambezi Indigobird 2012 1 January 2013
10 ngwee 20 mm 1.57 mm Brass-plated steel Plain Coat of arms of Zambia Eland 2012 1 January 2013
50 ngwee 21 mm 1.60 mm Brass-plated steel Reeded Coat of arms of Zambia African Elephant 2012 1 January 2013
1 kwacha 24 mm 1.73 mm Nickel-plated steel Reeded Coat of arms of Zambia Zambian Barbet 2012 1 January 2013


The Currency Act of 1967 replaced the Zambian pound, shilling, pence currency for new kwacha and ngwee currency. Thus on 16 January 1968, the Zambian pound was replaced by the kwacha with the new official rate equal to one half the old unit, or US$1. The 5-pound note became 10 kwacha, the 1-pound note 2 kwacha, the 10-shilling note 1 kwacha, and a new 50-ngwee note was introduced to correspond to the old 5 shillings. At the same time, the currency was decimalized.[6]

5 kwacha notes were introduced in 1973, the same year that the last 50 ngwee notes were issued. 50 kwacha notes were introduced in 1986, with the 1 kwacha note being replaced by a coin in 1988. 100 and 500 kwacha notes were introduced in 1991, followed by 1000, 5000 and 10,000 kwacha in 1992, when the 5 and 10 kwacha notes were replaced by coins and the 2 kwacha discontinued. In 2003, 20,000 and 50,000 kwacha notes were introduced.

Denomination Dates
50 ngwee 1968-1973
1 kwacha 1968-1988
2 kwacha 1968-1989
5 kwacha 1973-1989
10 kwacha 1968-1991
20 kwacha 1968-1992
50 kwacha 1986-2013
100 kwacha 1991-2013
500 kwacha 1991-2013
1000 kwacha
5000 kwacha 1992-2013
10,000 kwacha 1992-2013
20,000 kwacha 2003-2013
50,000 kwacha 2003-2013

Until 1991, all Zambian banknotes featured a portrait of President Kenneth Kaunda on the obverse. After 1992, all notes have instead featured a fish eagle on the obverse. After 1989, all the reverses featured the Chainbreaker statue. In 2003, Zambia became the first African country to issue polymer banknotes. The 500 and 1000 kwacha were both printed on polymer. Although the old 20 kwacha note was still in circulation until 2012, such is the rarity of this note that most major retailers rounded prices up to the nearest 50 kwacha when calculating a total. Most items in major supermarkets were displayed using 20 kwacha in the value (e.g., 1980 kwacha).

Banknotes of the new Kwacha (2013 series)[7][8][9]

Denomination Dates
2 kwacha 2013-
5 kwacha 2013-
10 kwacha 2013-
20 kwacha 2013-
50 kwacha 2013-
100 kwacha 2013-

See also


  1. ^ Bank of Zambia press release: Changeover date for the rebased currency
  2. ^ Bank of Zambia's Currency Rebasing Technical Guidelines dated August 2012
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Linzmayer, Owen (2012). "Zambia". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA: 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Zambia rebased kwacha notes confirmed January 23, 2012. Retrieved on 2013-01-24.

Further reading

External links

  • New Zambian coinage dated 2012
Preceded by:
Zambian pound
Ratio: 2 kwacha = 1 pound
Currency of Zambia
1968 – 31 December 2012
Succeeded by:
Second kwacha
Reason: convenience of exchange
Ratio: 1 second kwacha = 1000 first kwacha
Preceded by:
First kwacha
Ratio: 1 second kwacha = 1000 first kwacha
Currency of Zambia
1 January 2013 –
Succeeded by:
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