- According to the article, countries like Ethiopia, Libya and Angola — along with 14 other countries — place orders from British banknote printing giant De La Rue.
- The article further revealed that only a handful of African countries, like Nigeria, Morocco, and Kenya, have enough resources to print their own currencies or mint their own coins.
A recent article that examines why many African countries outsource their currency production has revealed that over 40 African countries print their money in the UK, France and Germany — decades after independence.
The article, published by German public international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, found that more than two-thirds of Africa’s 54 countries print their money overseas, mostly in Europe and North America.
According to the article, countries like Ethiopia, Libya and Angola — along with 14 other countries — place orders from British banknote printing giant De La Rue. Furthermore, six or seven other nations, including South Sudan, Tanzania and Mauritania, are said to print theirs in Germany’s Giesecke+Devrient. At the same time, most French-speaking African countries are known to print their money with France’s central bank and with the French printing company Oberthur Fiduciaire.
The article further revealed that only a handful of African countries, like Nigeria, Morocco, and Kenya, have enough resources to print their own currencies or mint their coins. They sometimes supplement production with imports.
Another key insight from the article explores how much it costs African countries to print their currencies overseas. According to Deutsche Welle, “since these countries usually order millions of notes to be carted in containers, they usually have to pay hefty shipping fees. In The Gambia’s case, officials say shipping costs rack up a bill of £70,000 (€84,000, $92,000).”
Speaking to Deutsche Welle, Mma Amara Ekeruche from the African Center for Economics Research explained that when a country’s currency is not in high demand — and not used globally like the US dollar or the British pound — it makes little financial sense to print it at home due to the high cost involved.
According to Ekeruche, money-printing machines usually churn out millions of notes at a time. Countries with smaller populations, like The Gambia or Somaliland, would have more money than they needed if they printed their own.
“If a country prints one banknote for €10 at home and sees that it can print it for about €8 abroad, why would they incur more costs? It won’t make sense,” Ekeruche explained.
The article concludes that Printing banknotes in Africa would boost profits on the continent. Theoretically, African countries could choose those with printing capabilities since there’s likely some idle capacity. A recent case study is The Gambia’s central bank officials proposing a possible partnership with Nigeria. If that happens at a scale where many African countries could start to look inwards for their currency orders, it could cut shipping costs drastically.