By Tamiru Tsige & Hayal Alemayehu
National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has dispatched to banks the new one-birr coins that are going to replace the current notes, whose circulation life is estimated at not be more than three years.
The Royal Canadian Mint (RCM), the company that won the official tender floated by the bank to make the coins, has delivered to the NBE more than 400 million one-birr coins, which are dealt out to the private and state-owned commercial banks in the course of the past ten days.
Sources told The Reporter that the 400 million one-birr coins cost the bank some 300 million birr, with the cost ratio of 75 cent apiece. However, the coins are not to be in circulations before the coming Ethiopian New Year and, so far, they are sealed in boxes.
The silver-color coin features a lion’s head on one side while the other depicts a scale. The lion’s head and the scale are imprinted in a golden color with silver sidelines completing the appearance.
The new coins, with an estimated life span of 20 years and above, are going to be circulated in the market concurrently with notes while the latter phases out until it is replaced completely. Information from the bank shows that the coins are fit for usage in vending machines.
The first paper based one-birr note entered circulation in Ethiopia during the regime of Emperor Menelik II while the subsequent governments revised the features and the color of the note whenever they saw fit.
The international tender floated by the NBE drew bids from coin makers from United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and France while the RCM (Canadian) won and did the job.
A French company, Francois-Charles Oberthur, and the British de La Rue Prints, supply the 50 and 160-birr notes and one and five-birr notes to Ethiopia respectively.