Money of Africa

As the British Empire expanded its contacts with Africa, the need for currency grew. The solution was to use a mix of local currencies, Spanish-American or British coinage, and currency made specifically for use in the colonies.

The first British coinage related to Africa was intended to advertise Britain’s involvement in the continent. These gold “guineas” were marked with an elephant and castle – the symbol of the Royal African Company established in 1660. It was founded to exploit the gold of the Guinea region of West Africa and became a major exporter of gold, ivory and slaves. Coinage was produced in the late 18th century for Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast (1796-1818).

With the independence of most countries of the region during the 1960s and 70s, a plethora of new currencies developed. They reflect the melding of the European monetary tradition with native designs and traditional regional concepts of money. Many currencies of former British colonies reflect local traditions melded with the pound sterling. African currency is notable for its wildlife images, reflecting the natural abundance and diversity of sub-Saharan savannas, forests and jungles.




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