Zambian Monetary Unit- Kwacha And Ngwee!

The Zambian monetary unit is measured in Kwacha and Ngwee. In fact the current Zambian currency was rebased on 1st January 2013 by dropping off three zeros in order to reduce the bulk carrying of money during the buying and selling transactions.


The rebasing of the Zambian Kwacha was a brain child of the Sata government.

Kwacha and ngwee is a phrase in one of the local Zambian languages, which means “Its dawn and clear!” referring to the freedom and independence which was granted after a vicious struggle with the colonial Masters.

The old Zambian monetary unit was denoted by the symbol ZMK. The new symbol is now ZMW. The Kwacha is divided into 100 ngwees.

In the year 2003, the Zambian government as the first African country, printed its K 500.00 and K1, 000.00 notes on polymer.

Zambian Monetary Unit 

The Old

Zambia Monetary Unit
Zambian Monetary Unit

The old currency had a fifty thousand kwacha note as the highest denomination note, followed by twenty thousand, ten thousand, five thousand, one thousand, five hundred, two hundred, fifty kwacha, and twenty kwacha notes.

The old notes featured an African Fish Eagle on one side and various animals found in the Zambia National Parks on the reverse side. 

The new notes also show the African Fish Eagle one side and various animals and freedom statute on the other side. On the hand, coins have coat of arms on one side and various animals on the reverse side.

The New

Five NgweeFive Ngwee
Ten NgweeTen Ngwee
Fifty NgweeFifty Ngwee
One KwachaOne Kwacha
Two KwachaTwo Kwacha
Five KwachaFive Kwacha
Ten KwachaTen Kwacha
Twenty KwachaTwenty Kwacha
Fifty KwachaFifty Kwacha
One Hundred KwachaOne Hundred Kwacha

Zambian Kwacha to 1 USD

The Kwacha had been divided into 100 ngwees. However, due to inflationary pressures, prices were rounded up to the nearest fifty kwacha using the old currency. As of 1st January 2013, the day of rebasing from the old to the new Zambian monetary unit, the old Kwacha was approximately, US$1.00 equal to Zmk 5,100.00. The old kwacha was in circulation side by side with the new Kwacha until 30th June 2013.

Of course, instrumental in the management of the Zambian currency are the Zambian banks. Currently the following are the banks operating in Zambia… 

Zambian Banks

Most of these banks are found in major towns. The following is a list:

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