Under the new Constitution, Kenya is supposed to replace all its currency notes in line with the provision requiring that names of individuals be removed from the face of currency notes and coins.
Currently, bank notes and coins circulating in Kenya carry pictures of founding president Jomo Kenyatta.
The Ksh40 coin alone carries a picture of current President Mwai Kibaki.
With the designs of the current generation notes owned by De La Rue, the Central Bank of Kenya has had no flexibility over changing designs owned by printers.
And, as the country prepares for the transition, the chances are that the Central Bank’s board will face new pressures to float a competitive tender for the supply of new generation currency notes.
Countries design new currencies for three main reasons: First, international best practice is to change designs very eight to 10 years.
Second, to incorporate modern security features in order to stay ahead of counterfeiters.
Third, to moderate bank note sizes while incorporating modern features for the visually challenged members of society.
New bank note designs
The new Constitution and the provision requiring that the names of both Kibaki and Kenyatta be expunged from the face of bank notes has given the Central Bank the opportunity to issue a tender for new bank note designs that shall be the property of the bank.
The CBK can now invite designers to come up with new designs after which it shall have exclusive custody of designs, which it can then present to any printer of its choice.
In the event that the government incorporates a new company co-owned by De La Rue, the new company can then be allowed to participate in the tender and compete with other printers of bank notes.
Between 1966 and 1985, Kenya’s bank notes were printed by a company by the name Bradbury and Wilkinson of the UK, which was later acquired by De La Rue in 1986.
Since then, De La Rue International UK, which was renamed Thomas De La Rue & Co, has provided currency printing services to the Central Bank of Kenya.
De La Rue International of the UK is one of the oldest and leading companies involved in the production of currencies for around 100 countries and a wide range of security printing services.