The National bank of Ethiopia (NBE) is to receive the new one-birr coins from the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM), the company assigned to do the job in two weeks time, a senior official at NBE told The Reporter. NBE is currently drafting a directive on how to replace the one-birr paper notes with coins of the same value. As soon as the directive is approved the new coins will be distributed, Alemayehu Kebede, director of Change Management and Communications Directorate at NBE, said.
The decision to replace the one-birr note with one-birr coins was reached after talks with the Prime Minister’s Office a year ago.
A study conducted by NBE confirmed that the circulation life of a one-birr note is three years, while a coin could last 20 years. The short lifespan of the one-birr note had led NBE to print them frequently at great cost.
Coin makers from the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Australia and France took part in the bid, which was won by the Canadian company. The Canadian company will mint 411 million coins that will be used starting this fiscal year.
The new coins are suitable for use by vending machines and coin-operated phones of the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC). Although the engraving of the usual lion’s head will be kept on one side, the features on the other side is to be selected from a collection of designs by the NBE.
In a recent publication issued by NBE, currently there are 441.7 million one-birr notes in circulation.
Presently there are one, five, ten, twenty-five, and fifty cents in circulation. This is the first time for the central bank to introduce one Birr in the form of coin.
A French company, Francois-Charles Oberthur, has been supplying 50-and 100-birr notes to NBE, while the British De La Rue prints the one-and five-birr notes.