Currencies in Africa: What You Need to Know

Almost everyone wants money, and like many things, money comes in different form and style depending on the area. Well, since we no longer practice the batter system and no longer pay for a yam tuber with cowries, “form” might not be the very accurate word. But talking about “style”, the various designs of money have come to be known as “currencies”. Every country uses one or more currency in carrying daily transactions, exchanging goods and services.

In Africa, there are a lot of currencies used in the over 50 countries that make up the continent. And perhaps you are thinking about visiting Africa for any reason from tourism to business, then you might need to know a thing or two of the currencies in Africa. Most of the countries in the continent have their own unique currencies like the Nigerian Naira, while some others have more than one like Zimbabwe with over 6 currencies as their legal tender, and Namibia where the South African Rand is used along with the Namibian dollar, as well as in West Africa where Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Benin, Senegal and Togo use the West African CFC franc. As of today, 1 West African CFA franc is equal to 0.62 Nigerian Naira.


Official African Currencies

We have listed all the official currencies used by the respective countries in the African continent. As you would find, some countries have more than one official currency, others do not have their unique currencies while some others have. We list them in alphabetical order based on the country names.

Algeria: Algerian dinar (DZD)

Angola: Angolan kwanza (AOA)

Benin: West African CFA franc (XOF)

Botswana: Botswanan pula (BWP)

Burkina Faso: West African CFA franc (XOF)

Burundi: Burundian franc (BIF)

Cameroon: Central African CFA franc (XAF)

Cape Verde: Cape Verdian escudo (CVE)

Central African Republic: Central African CFA franc (XAF)

Chad: Central African CFA franc (XAF)

Comoros: Comorian franc (KMF)

Cote d’Ivoire: West African CFA franc (XOF)

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Congolese franc (CDF), Zairean zaire (ZRZ)

Djibouti: Djiboutian franc (DJF)

Egypt: Egyptian pound (EGP)

Equatorial Guinea: Central African CFA franc (XAF)

Eritrea: Eritrean nakfa (ERN)

Ethiopia: Ethiopian birr (ETB)

Gabon: Central African CFA franc (XAF)

Gambia: Gambian dalasi (GMD)

Ghana: Ghanaian cedi (GHS)

Guinea: Guinean franc (GNF)

Guinea-Bissau: West African CFA franc (XOF)

Kenya: Kenyan shilling (KES)

Lesotho: Lesotho loti (LSL)

Liberia: Liberian dollar (LRD)

Libya: Libyan dinar (LYD)

Madagascar: Malagasy ariary (MGA)

Malawi: Malawian kwacha (MWK)

Mali: West African CFA franc (XOF)

Mauritania: Mauritanian ouguiya (MRO)

Mauritius: Mauritian rupee (MUR)

Morocco: Moroccan dirham (MAD)

Mozambique: Mozambican metical (MZN)

Namibia: Namibian dollar (NAD), South African rand (ZAR)

Niger: West African CFA franc (XOF)

Nigeria: Nigerian naira (NGN)

Republic of the Congo: Central African CFA franc (XAF)

Rwanda: Rwandan franc (RWF)

Sao Tome and Principe: São Tomé and Príncipe dobra (STD)

Senegal: West African CFA franc (XOF)

Seychelles: Seychellois rupee (SCR)

Sierra Leone: Sierra Leonean leone (SLL)

Somalia: Somali shilling (SOS)

South Africa: South African rand (ZAR)

Sudan: Sudanese pound (SDG)

South Sudan: South Sudanese pound (SSP)

Swaziland: Swazi Lilangeni (SZL), South African rand (ZAR)

Tanzania: Tanzanian shilling (TZS)

Togo: West African CFA franc (XOF)

Tunisia: Tunisian dinar (TND)

Uganda: Ugandan shilling (UGX)

Zambia: Zambian kwacha (ZMK)

Zimbabwe: United States dollar (USD), South African rand (ZAR), Euro (EUR), Indian rupee (INR), Pound sterling (GBP), Chinese yuan/ Renminbi (CNY), Botswanan pula (BWP)


Let’s Talk about the Exchange Rates

Exchange rates can be a bit tricky to place at explicit values but it is certainly not rocket science. This is because tourists who visit the countries might get confused when they get to find out that there are different rates in different areas; like at the airports and at the local BDCs. Well, nothing to worry about as we would help by providing the benchmark black market rates for each of the African currencies below against the US dollar. The following rates are what are obtainable as at on the 18th of February, 2019.

African Currency Exchange Rate per US Dollar
Algerian Dinar 118.83558
Angolan Kwanza 314.19321
 Botswana Pula 10.54397
 Burundi Franc 1814.00363
 Cape Verde Escudo 97.81051
 CFA BCEAO Franc 580.15922
 CFA BEAC Franc 580.30004
 Djibouti Franc 177.76997
 Egyptian Pound 17.58242
 Eritrean Nakfa 15.00000
 Ethiopian Birr 28.51399
 Gambian Dalasi 49.55504
 Ghanaian Cedi 5.26040
 Guinea Franc 9169.56233
 Kenyan Shilling 100.09063
 Lesotho Loti 13.35995
 Libyan Dinar 1.39025
 Malawi Kwacha 728.49688
 Mauritius Rupee 34.46365
 Moroccan Dirham 9.54401
 Namibian Dollar 13.61995
 Nigerian Naira 362.00009
 Rwanda Franc 891.26787
 Somali Shilling 578.75249
 South African Rand 14.09563
 Sudanese Pound 47.48000
 Swaziland Lilangeni 14.00002
 Tanzanian Shilling 2330.00044
 Tunisian Dinar 3.02526
 Ugandan Shilling 3669.00208
Zambian Kwacha 11.84405


The 10 Leading Currencies in Africa


From the curated currencies above, we can do a simple extrapolation to get the top currencies in the continent in terms of value. They are given below:

  • Libyan Dinar   (1 USD – 0.77 LYD)
  • Tunisian Dinar   (1 USD – 2.3 TND)
  • Ghanaian Cedis   (1 USD – 4.75 CEDI)
  • Sudanese Pound   (1 USD – 6.41 SDG)
  • Moroccan Dirham   (1 USD – 16.2 MAD)
  • Botswana Pula   (1 USD – 10.7 Pula)
  • Zambian Kwacha   (1 USD – 10.0 ZMK)
  • South African Rand   (1 USD – 13.4 Rand)
  • Eritrean Nafka   (1 USD   –   15.0 ERN)
  • Egyptian Pounds   (1 USD – 17.8 EGP)


And there you have it. We have attempted to cover the important information you need to know about the currencies used in Africa. So if you are a tourist or someone looking to establish an enterprise in Africa or whatever, you should be well equipped to manage your funds without having to fear being cheated.

Do let us know in the comment section if any important thing was missed out or if you found the lists here useful.




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