NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 16 – The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has kicked off a countrywide sensitization campaign ahead of September 30 deadline for the demonetization of the old-generation Sh1,000 banknotes.
The campaign started on Friday morning with a series of roadshows in Kwale County, where residents were cautioned against fake currency notes. CBK said an original note has easily identifiable features.
CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge said the bank had not received as much of the old notes as it had anticipated, some 46 days to the deadline.
“While we have the total figure, the amount is not as much as we had expected,” the Governor said when he led a roadshow in Kwale.
The low return rate is partly attributed to the last-minute culture, Njoroge asking Kenyans to take advantage of the remaining 46 days to return the old notes in exchange of the new ones.
“We still have this bad behavior of waiting until the last minute, we must do it now, before the deadline,” he asserted. He reiterated that CBK will not extend the deadline.
Between July and August, police have arrested four suspects with counterfeited new currency notes in amounts varying between Sh10,000 and Sh30,000.
Three suspects were arrested in July in Muranga County while another was nabbed in Narok.
“We still have some criminals among us. It is upon each Kenyan to learn how to differentiate between real and fake money,” the Governor said.
The new banknotes bear the image of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), one of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks in our country.
The banknotes also embody each of the big five game animals –lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, and buffalo.
“Each banknote has a unique theme to show the richness of our people and nature in our beautiful Kenya,” Njoroge said.
The Sh50 note has features centered on the energy sector, Sh100 the agriculture sector, Sh200 social services, Sh500 tourism sector and Sh 1,000 denoting governance.
Additionally, for the first time, the new banknotes bear features that make them user-friendly to the visually impaired members of our society.
The visually impaired can tell the value of a note by feeling special features through their fingers.
CBK will cease circulation of the old generation Sh1000 banknotes on October 1, in a move meant to enhance the war on graft and money laundering.
During the launch of the new 1000 notes on June 1, the Governor said the rollout of the new will address the proliferation of illicit financial flows in Kenya and the region.
“These are grave concerns that would jeopardize proper transactions and the conduct of commerce in our currency,” he said at Narok Stadium when Kenya marked 56th Madaraka day celebrations.
The move attracted mixed reactions, with a section of politicians moving to court to challenge it.
Leaders challenging the demonetization of the old currency include East African Legislative Assembly lawmaker Simon Mbugua who cited lack of public participation and inclusion of Kenya’s Founding Father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s portrait in the new banknotes.
The petition was merged with that of activist Okiya Omtatah, who raised similar issues.
On Thursday, a three-judge bench visited KICC to ascertain if the portrait of the founding President is indeed part of the 28-story building as argued by CBK.
They are set to render a ruling on September 27.