The South African Reserve Bank has launched a communication campaign to introduce the new Nelson Mandela banknotes, which will come into circulation before the end of the year.
"We hope the new note will be something we all like to have," Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus said at the launch in Pretoria on Tuesday. "We are pleased to issue this new series of banknotes which reflect South Africa's pride as a nation and pays tribute to a much loved world icon."
The new banknotes feature the image of South Africa's first democratically elected president, with the reverse side of each denomination featuring an image of one of the country's "big five" wild animals.
"A country's currency is a fundamental component of its national identity. It should be a reflection of its cultural heritage," Marcus said, adding that it was decided not only to upgrade the security features (which best practice is to do every six to eight years) but also to redesign the country's banknotes.
"We hope it's a design that stands the test of time," she said.
Marcus said that counterfeiting remained a global phenomenon and that the communication campaign would educate the public on the security features of the new notes. She said it would be difficult to replicate the notes, which will include unique numbering and micro printing.
The new notes will also have enhanced features for the visually impaired, including raised print on both sides.
The Reserve Bank has no plans to introduce denominations higher than the R200 note. Marcus said it was already sometimes difficult for people in the country's rural areas to break up a R200 note.
She stressed that the new notes as well as the old notes would continue to be legal tender, while adding that the central bank hopes to swap out the existing notes as soon as possible.
"As we introduce the new note we will swap out the old note, it will take time," she said, adding that the role of the Bank was not only to produce and circulate notes but also to ensure they were fit for circulation.
As of December 2011, approximately R100-billion in banknotes were in circulation in the South African economy.
The communication of the introduction of the new notes, which will be done to the tune of a total R32-million, will happen in both urban and rural areas and in diverse languages. Information about the notes will be carried in print media, television, radio and social media platforms including road shows.
The Reserve Bank's head office in Pretoria has been wrapped with a 25-storey billboard to help boost public awareness of the new notes.