The National Bank of Rwanda last week released new banknotes following a Cabinet decision and subsequent media briefing about the same. Physically, the new Rwf2, 000 and Rwf5, 000 notes look identical to the old ones which has perhaps created confusion about the fact that there is new legal tender in circulation alongside the old notes.
Indeed, the new banknotes have been received with suspicion especially within the business community as some people think that the banknotes are counterfeits, with some customers with the new banknotes being turned away.
There seems to be confusion about differences between the old and new banknotes since, save for the change in language at the back of the notes, the old and new banknotes are hardly different with regard to physical size, features, colours, etc.
This can largely be attributed to a lack of public awareness about the new legal tender.
It’s a no brainer that following the announcement about the impending release of the new notes, the central bank should have carried out a nationwide sensitisation campaign to avoid the suspicious reception and potential fraud that could come with the release of new legal tender.
Changing banknotes, especially for security purposes, is a good cause but the public needs to be made aware of the features and designs of the new notes before they are released.
Most importantly, issuing new notes without adequately sensitising the masses creates a loophole which counterfeiters could take advantage of and cheat unsuspecting members of the public.
The central bank says it’s working closely with commercial banks to popularise the new banknotes, but how many people have bank accounts? Yet millions of Rwandans have radio sets, mobile phones with Radio features, watch TV or read newspapers, platforms the central bank can and should actually use to raise public awareness about the new banknotes.
There is need for urgent public awareness campaign about the new notes.