The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) yesterday launched new coins that have been minted in accordance with the 2010 Constitution, even as it remained tight-lipped on the long-awaited and controversial printing of new generation banknotes.
The CBK, which is mandated to issue and preserve the value of the Kenyan currency, declined to give any timelines for release of the new banknotes.
The 2010 Constitution says Kenyan currency cannot bear the image individual.
The CBK officially gazetted the new Sh1, Sh5, Sh10 and Sh20 coins as legal tender, replacing portraits of former presidents with images of giraffe, rhino, lion and elephant, respectively.
The central bank also declined to reveal the company that minted the redesigned coins.
“The motifs and design elements on currencies present a unique way of recording history, celebrating our country’s diverse culture and our natural environment,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said when he unveiled the new coins.
“The new generation coins continue the tradition of depicting an aspect that best describes our country.”
The launch comes just days after the British security printer De La Rue International disclosed in London Stock Exchange filing late November that it plans to deliver the first batch of the banknotes in the course of next year.
De La Rue said it had signed a £85 million (Sh11.02 billion) deal with the CBK to print new generation banknotes.
The deal came after the September closure of the company’s books, necessitating the separate reporting.
The deal was signed after the Court of Appeal’s October 12 verdict that allowed the CBK and De La Rue to go ahead and produce the new banknotes, overruling the High Court’s April 12 cancellation of the tender.
Activist Okiya Omtatah had challenged the November 30, 2017 award of the lucrative tender to De La Rue, which has more than 25 years currency printing relationship with Kenya, on grounds that the procurement process was tilted in favour of the British firm.
“This legal challenge was the final hurdle that was stopping CBK from issuing the new generation bank notes,” CBK governor Patrick Njoroge had said in a statement on October 12, adding that the bank would reassess the timeline for the issuance of the new bank notes, and proceed with all due haste.
Mr Omtatah has, however, filed a notice to fight the Court of Appeal’s finding at the Supreme Court, insisting that De La Rue’s bid did not meet the requirements of the law.
Dr Njoroge said elements on the redesigned coins, which will circulate alongside existing ones until they are gradually phased out, were a product of wide consultations, including collection of views from the public.
“The new coins bear significant aspect of our nation, and therefore, will serve as means of passing knowledge, conserving culture and promoting our global uniqueness,” he said.
The new coins also come with a larger court of arms at the back.
The currency denomination has moved to the front.