A walk to the leading supermarkets across the country, at the cashiers’ desks you will see posters written: “Trade coins for notes.” Supermarkets are offering candy to customers in stead of coins in change, claiming that they do not have sufficient coins to give as change.

Naivas Supermarket in Kitui is buying coins from shoppers and this shows that the coins are missing. But who is to blame? If you board matatus, especially in Nairobi, the conductor will start asking the commuters whether they have coins.

“I think the problem is with the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK). They are concentrating much on notes and ignoring the coins, oblivious of the role they play in the Kenyan economy,” argues a Kenya Bus Service (KBS) conductor in Nairobi.

Early June this year, CBK blamed Kenyans for holding coins. James Lopoyetum, the Director of Currency Operations at the CBK claimed that Kenyans were holding nearly half of the Ksh 5 billion coins.

A return coins campaign launched last year has yielded little results. “Perhaps it is the habit of keeping coins in our homes, offices, and cars that is creating the impression that coins are unavailable in retail outlets,” said Central Bank of Kenya Governor Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u sometimes back.

The blame goes back to 2007-2008 post election mayhem that saw inflation in the country shoot to a record 26.2%. During this period, many Kenyans saw coins ‘lose value’ for the inflation tampered with their purchasing power using coins.



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