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Malawian kwacha

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Malawian kwacha

Malawian kwacha
Current coins
ISO 4217 code MWK
Central bank Reserve Bank of Malawi
 Website .mw.rbmwww
User(s)  Malawi
Inflation 7.2%
 Source "Money Supply and Inflation in Malawi: An Economic Investigation," International Journal of Applied Economics and Finance, 6(3): 77-88, 2012.
 1/100 tambala
Symbol MK
 Freq. used 1, 5, 10 kwacha
 Rarely used 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 tambala
Banknotes 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 kwacha

The kwacha (; ISO 4217: MWK) is the currency of Malawi as of 1971, replacing the Malawian pound. It is divided into 100 tambala. The kwacha replaced other types of currency, namely the UK pound sterling, the South African rand and the Rhodesian dollar, that had previously circulated through the Malawian economy. The exchange rate of the kwacha undergoes fixed periodical adjustments, but since 1994 the exchange rate has floated.[1] In 2005, administrative measures were put in place by Bingu wa Mutharika[2] to peg the exchange rate with other currencies.[3] Banknotes are issued by the Reserve Bank of Malawi. In May 2012, the Reserve Bank of Malawi devalued the kwacha by 34% and unpegged it from the United States dollar.[2]


The name kwacha derives from the Nyanja and Bemba word for "dawn", while tambala translates as "rooster" in Nyanja. The tambala was so named because a rooster appeared on the first one tambala coin.


The kwacha replaced the Malawian pound in 1971 at a rate of two kwacha to one pound.

As of 9 May 2011 one British pound sterling was equal to 257.7172 kwacha, one US dollar was equal to 152.2933 kwacha and one South African rand was equal to 23.7740 kwacha.


A one kwacha coin from 1992

The first coins introduced in 1971 were in denominations of one, two, five, ten and twenty tambala. In 1986, fifty tambala and one kwacha coins were also introduced. In January 2007, five and ten kwacha coins, which actually bear a mint date of 2006, were also released into circulation. In 2012 new one, five and ten kwacha coins were released into circulation[4]

The one and two tambala coins are composed of copper-plated steel. The five tambala coin is of nickel-plated steel. The fifty tambala and one kwacha coin are composed of brass-plated steel.[5]


Old Malawian 1 kwacha note, carrying the date 1 Dec 1990, depicting former President-for-Life Hastings Banda on the front and workers in a Tobacco field on the reverse.

In 1971, banknotes dated 1964 were introduced in denominations of 50 tambala, 1, 2 and 10 kwacha. 5 kwacha notes were introduced in 1973 when the 2 kwacha note was discontinued. 20 kwacha notes were introduced in 1983. 50 tambala notes were last issued in 1986, with the last 1 kwacha notes printed in 1990. In 1993, 50 kwacha notes were introduced, followed by 100 kwacha in 1993, 200 kwacha in 1995 and 500 kwacha in 2001.

As of 2008, the following banknote denominations are in circulation:
1997 Series [6]
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of first printing
Obverse Reverse
K5 126 × 63 mm Green John Chilembwe Villagers mashing grain 1 July 1997
K10 132 × 66 mm Brown Children in "bush" school
K20 138 × 69 mm Purple Workers harvesting tea leaves
K50 144 × 72 mm Blue Independence Arc in Blantyre
K100 150 × 75 mm Red Capital Hill in Lilongwe
K200 156 × 78 mm Blue Reserve Bank building in Lilongwe
K500 162 × 81 mm Multi-colour Reserve Bank building in Blantyre 1 December 2001

According to an article in the Nyasa Times dated 9 March 2012, within the next six months the Reserve Bank of Malawi will introduce a whole new series of notes, including a 1,000-kwacha note, twice the largest denomination currently in circulation. The notes were announced in Biantyre on 8 March by Governor Dr. Perks Ligoya. The new notes will be much smaller in size than the current notes, which serves as a cost-cutting measure. The new 1,000-kwacha note is to be printed by De La Rue.[7][8]

On 23 May 2012, the Nyasa Times reported that the Reserve Bank of Malawi introduced the new 1,000 kwacha note into circulation along with the proposed new notes. The new 1,000 kwacha note is valued at around US$4. The new kwacha has the face of the first president Kamuzu Banda on the front and the back carries a depiction of Mzuzu maize silos.[9]

On May 23, the new 20 kwacha note contained an error. On the back of the note is a building identified as the Domasi Teacher's Training College (now known as the Domasi College of Education). However, it is reported that the building is in fact the Machinga Teacher's Training College.[10]

The Reserve Bank of Malawi will revise its new family of notes (which were introduced on May 23, 2012) so that they are more "blind friendly". According to the Malawi Union of the Blind, the current notes have raised dots to aid in recognition of the denominations, but the dots are too small to be useful.[11]

2012 Series [12]
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of first printing
Obverse Reverse
[1] K20 128 × 64 mm Purple and orange Reserve Bank of Malawi headquarters in Lilongwe; Inkosi ya Makhosi M’mbelwa II (Lazalo Mkhuzo Jere) Domasi Teachers Training College building and tree; stack of books and mortarboard 23 May 2012
[2] K50 128 × 64 mm Light blue, orange, and green Reserve Bank of Malawi headquarters building in Lilongwe; Inkosi Ya Makhosi Gomani II (Philip Zitonga Maseko) Elephants, tree, and safari vehicle in Kasungu National Park
[3] K100 128 × 64 mm Red and orange Reserve Bank of Malawi headquarters building in Lilongwe; James Frederick Sangala College of Medicine in Blantyre; stethoscope
[4] K200 132 × 66 mm Blue, violet, and orange Reserve Bank of Malawi headquarters building in Lilongwe; Rose Lomathinda Chibambo New Parliament building in Lilongwe
[5] K500 132 × 66 mm Brown, orange, and light blue Reserve Bank of Malawi headquarters building in Lilongwe; Reverend John Chilembwe Mulunguzi dam in Zomba; water spigot; silhouette of woman carrying container on head and man carrying hoe over shoulder
[6] K1000 132 × 66 mm Green and orange Reserve Bank of Malawi headquarters building in Lilongwe; Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda Mzuzu maize silos; stalk of maize (corn); silhouette of two people mashing maize


  1. ^ Frederic L. Pryor, The political economy of poverty, equity, and growth: Malaŵi and Madagascar Oxford University Press, 1990 ISBN 0-19-520823-4, p. 415
  2. ^ a b "Malawi devalues currency by a third". Al Jazeera. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-08. 
  3. ^ Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions , International Monetary Fund, 2006, ISBN 1-58906-569-7, p[page 716
  4. ^ "World Coin News: malawi". Retrieved 2014-03-23. 
  5. ^ "Malawi." NumisMaster. F+W Publications, Inc. 2011. Web. 17 February 2011.
  6. ^ "Currency: Notes & Coins". Retrieved 2014-03-23. 
  7. ^ Linzmayer, Owen (2012). "Malawi". The Banknote Book. San Francisco, CA: 
  8. ^ Malawi new banknote family confirmed Retrieved 2012-05-17.
  9. ^ "Malawi releases new Kwacha bank notes | Malawi Nyasa Times – Malawi breaking news in Malawi". Retrieved 2014-03-23. 
  10. ^ Reserve Bank goofs on new K20 banknote, Mawali Today, retrieved 2012-06-04.
  11. ^ Malawi Central-Bank to issue new blind friendly bank notes, Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  12. ^ "Malawi new banknote family confirmed | Africa". Banknote News. 2012-06-05. Retrieved 2014-03-23. 
Preceded by:
Malawian pound
Ratio: 2 kwacha = 1 pound
Currency of Malawi
1971 –
Succeeded by:
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