Rwandan Franc: Your Complete Currency Guide

Last updated on October 10th, 2023 at 10:43 pm

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The Rwandan franc is the currency of Rwanda, a country situated in east-central Africa. Rwandan francs can be represented by several codes and symbols, including “FRw,” “RF,” “R₣,” and the  ISO currency code “RWF.”  Each Rwandan franc can be subdivided into 100 centimes. The National Bank of Rwanda issued the first Rwandan franc in 1964, two years after the country became independent.

As of this writing, the exchange rate for 1,000 Rwandan francs was .98 USD, .80 GBP, and 0.93 euros. To see the current Rwandan franc–to–dollar exchange rate, check out today’s rate with Remitly.

Rwandan banknotes currently come in denominations of 500; 1,000; 2,000; and 5,000 francs. Rwandan coins are produced in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 francs. Rwandan franc coins are made of nickel-plated steel, bronze, or aluminum-magnesium alloys.

In 2019, the National Bank of Rwanda (Banque Nationale du Rwanda) released new versions of its 500- and 1,000-franc  banknotes with improved security features and made from more durable material.

Rwandan Franc

5 Facts About the Rwandan Franc

1. The currency has Belgian origins.

At the time of German colonization, the currency used in Rwanda was the German East African rupie. When Belgium took over in 1916, it replaced the rupie with the Belgian Congo franc.  In 1960 Rwanda adopted the Rwanda and Burundi franc, a precursor to the Rwandan franc.

2. Rwanda modified existing currency before printing its own.

Rwanda became an independent republic in 1962 and began issuing its own currency in 1964. At first, it issued provisional notes that were created by hand-stamping and embossing Rwanda-Burundi banknotes.

The embossed stamp specified the “Bank of Rwanda,” accompanied by the signature of then-governor Jean-Baptiste Habyarimana. These embossed and stamped notes were exclusively legal in Rwanda.

These provisional overprints lasted until the regular distribution of the Rwandan franc replaced the temporary currencies between 1964 and 1976.

3. The new 500-franc banknote is a tribute to the nation’s economy.

The latest design of the 500–Rwandan franc banknote, released in 2019, depicts the Muregeya suspension footbridge, a popular tourist attraction situated within the Nyungwe Canopy. The Muregeya suspension bridge provides a treetop walk with a breathtaking view of the nation’s lush greenery and abundant wildlife.

An earlier design of the 500–franc banknote depicted cattle on the front, an homage to the nation’s agriculture industry.

4. The same note holds a powerful national message.

The reverse side of the 500–Rwandan franc note shows students studying with laptop computers, symbolizing the nation’s efforts to strengthen education using information technology.In 2005, the nonprofit One Laptop per Child (OLPC) distributed its range of XO computers throughout the developing world, providing children with access to content, media, and improved awareness about the world.

Although OLPC eventually shut down in 2014, the 500–Rwandan franc banknote reflects the mission and promise of providing education to all.

5. There were talks of a standardized regional currency.

The Rwandan government almost replaced the Rwandan franc in 2012 with a regional currency known as the “new East African shilling.” Talks continue among the states within the East African Community (EAC), which includes Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, with plans for currency adoption delayed to 2024.

About Rwanda

The Republic of Rwanda is a landlocked nation situated in the Great Rift Valley at the convergence of the African Great Lakes and East Africa. Rwanda goes by the nickname the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” directly translated from the French term “Pays des Mille Collines,” which references the blooming mountainous wilderness of the African nation. Many of the country’s towns and cities are located at high elevations, offering countless scenic views.

Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is situated roughly 164 miles from the equator, and Kinyarwanda is the country’s official language. However, English has been taught as part of the national curriculum at schools, while the older generation of citizens still speaks fluent French, originating from the time of the Belgian occupation.

Rwanda is a major producer of coffee and tea, as represented on the 2,000–Rwandan franc banknotes, which depict coffee beans on the back side.

Rwandan Franc

Sending Money to Rwanda

You can send money to Rwanda with Remitly. New customers may be eligible for a special offer on their first transfer.

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