Rwanda: Why Rwanda Does Not Print Its Own Currency

It is not uncommon for central banks to print their respective countries' currencies in foreign nations. This is the case for Rwanda.

A banknote or coin is a legally acceptable medium of exchange for goods and services. Banknotes exist around the world and every country creates its own unique designs considering security features to maintain their originality against counterfeit crimes.

Only a handful of African countries print their own currencies with majority of them outsourcing the service from European firms.

Rwanda prints its money from a German company called Giesecke+Devrient.

In addition to British banknote printing giant De La Rue, and Sweden-based Crane AB, Giesecke+Devrient is one the top firms that African central banks partner with.

Kasai Ndahiriwe, Economist and Director of the Monetary Policy Department at the National Bank of Rwanda, explained that if Rwanda was to print its own currency, the production cost would be very high.

"Rwanda has the capacity to set up that printing industry but it would be a loss given that it would have to close for about five years waiting for the expiration of lifespan of the previously printed notes," he said.

The sustainability of a company is the ability to have a continuous flow of production.

Besides, Ndahiriwe adds, the main mandate of the National Bank of Rwanda is to protect and preserve the country's currency, and not to produce them.

Without revealing the exact amount that the government spends on printing the Rwandan franc, Ndahiriwe said that generally, the cost is very high.

For instance, the cost of printing Rwf1,000 banknote is higher than its face value.

However, he explained that in the long run, the investment is worthwhile given that the lifespan of one note can go up to five years and beyond.

Another factor that drives the cost of production is the high level of technology that is required in terms of security to counter forgery and other related crimes, cited Ndahiriwe.

According to John Rwangombwa, the Governor of the central bank, given where Rwanda is heading in terms of a cashless economy and digital transformation, there will come a time when printing cash money will no longer be necessary.

To this, in early March, BNR said that it will pronounce itself on establishing a central bank Digital Currency by December this year.

A study is still being conducted on the economic, financial, and technical aspects related to CBDC as well as the operationalization model, taking into account the local context.

Digital currency represents any currency or money that is managed or exchanged on digital computer systems, especially over the internet, and never converted into physical form at any point.

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