There are 54 countries on the African continent, and ten of them are the most undeveloped countries in the world. The continent’s currencies don’t take key positions in the global rankings; however, several legal tenders are widely traded in the currency market.
Have you ever wondered which country has the highest currency in Africa? At FXOpen, we have compiled a list of the strongest African currencies. We will go from the bottom up, so you’ll see the best currency in Africa at the end of the list.
List of Strongest Currencies in Africa
Here is a list of the top 20 highest currencies in Africa. The United States dollar continues to serve as the worldwide standard for assessing currencies. Therefore, this ranking of the most robust currencies in Africa is set against the US dollar.
*The rates are effective on May 16, 2023.
20. Cape Verdean Escudo
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 101.4 CVE
The weakest legal tender in this top-20 currency ranking in Africa is the Cape Verdean escudo (CVE). This is the currency of Cape Verde, also known as Cabo Verde, located on the northwest coast of Africa. The current exchange rate of the CVE to 1 US dollar is over one hundred escudos.
The CVE was put into circulation to replace the previous currency, the Cape Verde real. Although Cape Verde is a small island state and has a cheap currency, its economy is relatively stable, with a strong emphasis on services and tourism.
19. Mozambican Metical
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 63.8 MZN
The Mozambican metical is the currency of Mozambique, the country on the southeastern coast of Africa. During the colonial era, the Mozambican escudo was used in the country. It was later replaced by the old metical (MZM), which was then changed to the new metical (MZN).
A large part of the population is engaged in the agricultural sector. The country produces cotton, sugar cane, tobacco, and tea. Mozambique has vast natural resources that include gas, coal, and titanium. This developing country is of interest to foreign investors.
18. Gambian Dalasi
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 59.7 GMD
The Gambia is a small country located in West Africa. Its currency, the Gambian dalasi (GMD), is not very strong. The economy of this emerging nation is heavily dependent on agriculture, as the Gambia doesn’t have many mineral resources or oil.
The country has a well-developed tourism industry and great coastal resorts, so many people work in the service sector. Other industries include food production and textile manufacturing.
17. Ethiopian Birr
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 54.5 ETB
The Ethiopian birr (ETB) is the currency of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. This is a poorly developed agrarian country, and agriculture plays a major role in its economy. The ETB is primarily used for transactions within Ethiopia, as it’s not widely traded outside the country.
Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing economies globally. The banking, telecom, and transport sectors are dominated by state-owned companies. The country is renowned for its coffee and cereal production.
16. Mauritian Rupee
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 45.3 MUR
The Mauritian rupee, the MUR, is the official legal tender of the Republic of Mauritius. The rupee is mostly used for domestic financial operations. From an economic perspective, Mauritius is the second-richest state in Africa.
The Mauritian economy is based on sugar and salt production, tourism and the textile industry. Currently, the country is developing the offshore business, ICT, and the fishing and fish processing industries.
15. Mauritanian Ouguiya
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 34.4 MRU
The currency of Mauritania is the Mauritanian ouguiya, the MRU. The country is located in northwest Africa. The economy of Mauritania is, for the most part, based on agriculture and livestock. The MRU is one of the two currencies circulating within the country; the second one is the Malagasy ariary.
Mauritania has sizable mineral resources, the main focus being iron ore, which accounts for almost 50% of all exports. Gold and copper are also mined in the country. Agriculture employs most of the population; however, this sector is vulnerable to climate change and droughts. The fishing industry is developed thanks to the extensive coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.
14. Egyptian Pound
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 30.9 EGP
The Egyptian pound (EGP) is Egypt’s official currency. Egypt is a densely populated country located in the northeast of Africa. Until 2001, the pound was backed by precious metals, but the currency has now moved to a floating exchange rate.
Egypt’s banking sector is one of the largest in Africa. The EGP is used as an unofficial currency in Sudan and the Gaza Strip. It’s one of the most valuable in Africa, as Egypt has the second-highest nominal GDP on the continent. The economy is based on tourism and services (49%) and agriculture (25%).
13. São Tomé & Príncipe Dobra
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 22.5 STN
The currency called the São Tomé & Príncipe dobra (STN) is the legal tender of São Tomé and Príncipe Island, located off the west coast of Central Africa. While the island was colonised by the Portuguese between 1470 and 1975, escudos were used.
The country’s economy is heavily reliant on cocoa and palm oil production. Today, it is changing thanks to investments in oil development in the Gulf of Guinea waters. Other important sectors are fishing, tourism, and services.
12. South African Rand
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 19.21 ZAR
The South African rand (ZAR) is the most widely traded legal tender in Africa. South Africa’s economy is increasingly integrated into the global economy. Several countries in the region, including Lesotho, Namibia, and Eswatini, have pegged their currencies to the South African rand.
The value of the ZAR is linked to the price of gold, South Africa’s main export. South Africa’s economy depends on various sectors such as mining, tourism and financial services. However, the political situation in South Africa is unstable, which causes changes in exchange rates.
11. Eswatini Lilangeni
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 19.12 SZL
The Eswatini Lilangeni (SZL) is the official currency of the Kingdom of Eswatini (former Swaziland), located in southern Africa. The country is largely dependent on its neighbour – South Africa. All imports and 75% of its exports come from or pass through South Africa.
Manufacturing accounts for 37% of Eswatini’s GDP, then come agriculture, forestry and mining, which account for about 13%. The country is renowned for its crop production, including sugarcane, maise, and citrus fruits. The country benefits from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which gives it duty-free access to the US market.
10. Lesotho Loti
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 19.08 LSL
We’ve made it to the list of the top ten highest currency in Africa. The loti (LSL) is the currency of the Kingdom of Lesotho in southern Africa. In terms of geographical location, Lesotho is surrounded by South Africa, and in addition, the country is economically integrated with it. The South African rand is also accepted as legal tender in this region.
The economy of the country is largely based on agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and services. Lesotho is known for its textile and garment industry. It is also exploring its diamond and water resources. As for global trade, Lesotho is a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
9. Namibian Dollar
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 19.08 NAD
The Namibian dollar (NAD) is the currency of Namibia, a country located in southwestern Africa. The NAD is pegged to the South African rand at a fixed exchange rate (1 ZAR = 1 NAD). However, the rate still fluctuates slightly, usually at ± 0.01. Namibia’s economy is focused on mining, manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism.
Namibia is one of the poorest countries in Africa, with an unemployment rate of over 20%. As the country possesses mineral resources such as diamonds, uranium, copper and gold, Namibia’s economy relies heavily on income from the export of commodities.
8. Zambian Kwacha
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 18.6 ZMW
The Zambian kwacha (ZMW) is the official currency of Zambia, a country located in southern Africa. The kwacha replaced the pound sterling in 1968 when Zambia gained independence from Britain. Although the ZMW is one of the strongest currencies in Africa, it’s not often traded. This is due to inflation and volatility over time.
Zambia is Africa’s largest copper producer, so its currency fluctuates in response to changes in global copper market commodity prices. The country produces maize, tobacco, cotton, and soybeans. There are developing industries focused on textiles, food and beverages, and building materials.
7. Eritrean Nakfa
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 15.0 ERN
The Eritrean nakfa (ERN) is the legal tender of Eritrea, a country located in the Horn of Africa. Over the years, the nakfa was stable due to the Eritrean government’s preference for a fixed exchange rate.
Eritrea is an agricultural country with plenty of fertile land to grow crops like sorghum, millet, wheat, and barley. The demand for food is always high, which ensures rapid growth of the economy. Bisha Mine, one of the largest gold and copper mines in Africa, is also located in Eritrea.
6. Seychellois Rupee
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 13.9 SCR
The Seychellois rupee (SCR) is a strong currency in East Africa. Foreign investment, as well as thriving agriculture, fisheries, and small-scale industries, have helped the growth of the country’s economy. The economy is also largely driven by the import-export sector, making its currency stable.
Seychelles has the highest GDP among all African countries. Another factor contributing to the high value of the Seychellois rupee is that the country has an independent and tight monetary policy. Additionally, the country has an advanced tourism sphere.
5. Botswana Pula
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 13.5 BWP
The Botswana pula (BWP) is the strongest currency in southern Africa. The pula has been circulating in Botswana for more than 45 years since the country’s independence from the UK. The BWP is pegged to a basket of currencies, including the South African rand.
Thanks to Botswana’s strong economy and generally stable political system, the BWP is one of the most valuable currencies in Africa. It is traded on Africa’s largest stock exchange, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
4. Ghanaian Cedi
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 11.5 GHS
The Ghanaian cedi (GHS) is the fourth most valuable currency in Africa. Ghana’s currency has been experiencing increased volatility for many years. To fix this, the Bank of Ghana replaced the cedi exchange rate in 2007. Ghana has the largest GDP in the region, which makes the cedi the highest currency in West Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
However, high inflation and the rising cost of imports have caused more foreign exchange outflows in 2022–23, forcing Ghana to spend much more to meet its obligations to international creditors, having a negative impact on the exchange rate.
3. Moroccan Dirham
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 10.1 MAD
The Moroccan dirham (MAD) ranks third on the list of highest currencies in Africa. The MAD is legal tender in Morocco and neighbouring countries in the Western Sahara region. It cannot be traded outside the country, so it is also called a closed currency.
Although the export of Moroccan dirhams is illegal by law, it remains uncontrolled. The MAD is the de facto medium of exchange in this region only. Morocco’s proximity to Europe gives it an advantage in doing business with the EU. Thanks to this, its economy is growing quickly.
2. Libyan Dinar
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 4.7 LYD
The Libyan dinar (LYD) is the second on our list of top African currencies. The LYD replaced the Libyan pound in 1971, and from then on, it was the strongest currency in Africa for a very long time.
The drop in its value is linked to the drop in oil prices on international markets. Oil sales are Libya’s main source of income; they bring over 95% of export earnings and make up 60% of GDP. Libya is also rich in gold and silver.
The Libyan dinar is considered to be a stable currency, as even during the political turmoil in 2011, the Libyan dinar remained at a high position in the global currency ratings.
1. Tunisian Dinar
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 3.0 TND
The Tunisian dinar (TND) is the most valuable currency in Africa. Tunisia is located in North Africa. The TND was put into circulation in 1958, after Tunisia’s independence from France. It was pegged to the US dollar at an exchange rate of 0.42 dinars to one dollar, which was maintained until 1971.
The low inflation rate in this country reinforced the rise of its currency to the top of the rankings. The Tunisian government has made it illegal to import, export, or convert the dinar into another currency. The country has an effective import and export policy. Tunisia’s agricultural and oil exports account for the majority of its GDP.
At FXOpen, we believe that informing traders and investors about the world’s best-known currencies is really important. Since the majority of African currencies are not traded on forex or don’t have much liquidity, you can choose more stable and liquid currency pairs.
Which currency has the highest value in Africa?
The Tunisian dinar is the highest currency in Africa in 2023. It is followed by the Libyan dinar and Moroccan dirham.
Which is the strongest currency in the world?
The Kuwaiti dinar is the strongest currency. Kuwait is a small country located between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and it has a prosperous petroleum-based economy. It is the fifth-richest nation in the world, according to the World Bank.
What are the top 20 currencies in the world?
The top 20 most powerful currencies in the world are:
- Kuwaiti dinar
- Bahraini dinar
- Omani rial
- Jordanian dinar
- Cayman Islands dollar
- and more
Learn more about each of them in our blog post.
What is the weakest currency in Africa?
Currently, the weakest legal tender in Africa is the Sierra Leonean Leone (SLL).
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