FACT CHECK: Have Kenya & Other EAC Countries Launched SHEAFRA Currency?

During the launch, the EAC announced that the currency would begin from SHF 5, the lowest of six denominations released by the community.

FACT CHECK: Have Kenya & Other EAC Countries Launched SHEAFRA Currency?
The Sheafra currency (SHF5) for East African Community (EAC). /GOVERNMENT OF EAST AFRICA

UPDATE: Sunday, March 3: The East African Community (EAC) has clarified that the community was yet to launch the common currency known as SHEAFRA.

EAC had flagged down a post by an X account bearing a grey government checkmark which unveiled the incoming notes.

"The EAC Secretariat wishes to inform all our stakeholders that the Partner States' journey to a single currency is still a work in progress. Kindly ignore any rumours circulating in social media on the unveiling of new banknotes for the region," stated EAC.

The government of the East African Community (EAC) on Sunday, March 3 officially launched a common currency for members of the EAC, which some economic experts believe could save Kenya's worsening economy.

EAC which comprises Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and South Sudan is expected to begin using the unified currency which has been dubbed the SHEAFRA, which means Shilling of East Africa and Franc.

During the launch, the EAC announced that the currency would begin from SHF 5, the lowest of six denominations released by the community.

"The East African Sheafra of SHF.5 Currency Note of fuv5 has finally Landed," stated EAC.

President William Ruto and President Samia Suluhu of Tanzania at the EAC Heads of State meeting in Arusha. /PCS

On its part, the East African Community Interruling Party Union (EAC-IPU) introduced the six other denominations, which conclude with the highest currency of SHF 200.

"Welcome the last East Africa Sheafra Currency Note Specimen. We have 6 Denominations, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and SHF.200 as the biggest East African SHEAFRA Note," stated EAC-IPU.

However, it was revealed that the official use of the currency was still yet to take effect as it was still at the specimen stage.

One of the would-be first beneficiaries of the new SHEAFRA currency was Benson Kipruto who won the Tokyo Marathon, announced after President William Ruto posted a congratulatory message for the athlete.

“We would award them with East African Sheafra Money but they are still in specimens,” President Ruto was told.

The East African Sheafra (SHF1 SHEAFRA) is estimated to be valued at US$0.76, almost a Dollar; Tsh2,800 Tanzania Shillings, Ksh760 Kenya Shillings, RFr.1,230 Rwanda Franc, USh3,400 Uganda Shillings and BF.3,103 Burundi Franc.

Features of SHEAFRA Note

At the bottom, the note featuring the currency will contain the insignia ‘The East African Sheafra’ written in capital letters. 

The note will further have a magnetic strip and two watermarks bearing the East African Logo as well as the currency initials - SHF. 

The currency will have the signature of the bank’s governor and secretary as proof of authenticity.

SHEAFRA Background

The conversation on the introduction of the common currency for East Africa and probably even growth to an African common currency (AFRO) is good news to the region. This would mean, enhancing economic integration among East African countries, simplifying trade, reducing currency exchange costs, and promoting price stability. 

Also, the incoming currency would be a big boost to trade and investment, as well as facilitate cross-border transactions, and foster a sense of regional unity and cooperation among member nations. 

Plans for a single currency in the region began as far back as 2020 when EAC announced that partner states were in the process of harmonizing critical policies and putting in place the requisite institutions to attain a single currency for the region by 2024 as outlined in the EAC Monetary Union Protocol.

Who Will Issue SHEAFRA Currency?

EAC Secretary General Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko said on January 27, 2020, that the Bill for the establishment of the East African Monetary Institute (EAMI) had already been assented to by the Summit of Heads of State.

This would set the precedence for the EAMI to later be transformed into the East African Central Bank which would issue the single currency, thus the power to issue national currency would be transferred from governments to the common institution.

“The establishment of this institute will help to provide impetus towards the formation of the East African Monetary Union, which is the third pillar of our integration,” said Amb. Mfumukeko.

Amb. Mfumukeko disclosed that the Council of Ministers had approved the EAC Domestic Tax Harmonization Policy, adding that proper implementation of the policy would reduce tax competition thereby enhancing cross-border trade and investment in the region.

The introduction of the single currency will see EAC join the likes of Europe whose Euro (currency code EUR) is used by 20 out of the 27 member states of the European Union (EU).

A proposed common East Africa Community Currency. /EAC IPU