Draft constitution: Kenya currency to exclude portraits

If the draft constitution is implemented, notes and coins issued by the Central Bank of Kenya may bear images that depict or symbolise Kenya or an aspect of Kenya but may not bear the portrait of any individual. Photo/FILE

Kenya’s coins and notes will not bear the portrait of any individual if the proposals in the new harmonised draft Constitution of Kenya are adopted.

The Committee of Experts, in a draft Constitution released on Tuesday, propose, "Notes and coins issued by the Central Bank of Kenya may bear images that depict or symbolise Kenya or an aspect of Kenya but may not bear the portrait of any individual."

This means that former presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi will be the only last personalities to have had portraits on the Kenyan currency.

Kenyans have a month to make their contributions on what they think of the proposals before changes are made to the draft constitution.

A referendum is scheduled for early march next year.

If the referendum agrees to adopt the constitution, it will see the Central Bank governor hold office for a term of six years and not be eligible for re-appointment.

The Central Bank board members appointed by the president with approval of the National Assembly, will hold office for five years and only be eligible for appointment for one further and final term.

Currently, the governor and other Central Bank’s board of directors hold office for a term of four years and are eligible for reappointment once and not more than two terms.

The history of Kenyan currency dates back to 1966, when the Central Bank of Kenya issued notes in denominations of Sh5, Sh10, Sh20, Sh50 and Sh100.

The Sh5 notes were replaced by coins in 1985, with the same happening to Sh10 and Sh20 in 1994 and 1998.

In 1986, Sh200 notes were introduced, followed by Sh500 shillings in 1988 and Sh1,000 in 1994.

Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta appeared on the banknotes issued until 1978, with President Daniel Moi’s portrait replacing him in 1980.

In 2003, after President Mwai Kibaki replaced Moi, Sh5, Sh10, and Sh20 notes from the 1978 series with Kenyatta’s picture that had been in storage were issued, and circulated for a time.

A new series of notes was then introduced on which Kenyatta reappeared with denominations of Sh50, Sh100, Sh200, Sh500 and Sh1,000.

The issue of December 12, 2003 commemorates the '40 years of Independence 1963-2003'.

The banknotes are printed in Nairobi by De La Rue.

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