Somalia intends to resume printing banknotes this year for the first time since the government collapsed in 1991.
The governor of Somalia’s central bank, Bashir Issa Ali, told VOA in an exclusive interview Saturday that all technical preparations are complete, and his government is confident it can assemble a financial aid package within three months to fund the printing program.
Further work would take another four months.
Asked if Somalia will print and distribute banknotes during 2017, Ali answered: “Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely!” He pledged the new currency would include “good, reliable security features.”
Pre-1991 banknotes have disappeared from Somali markets, replaced by either Western currencies, including dollars, or privately printed notes, most of which are worthless fakes.
Financial reforms to take hold soon
Ali said international institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as the U.S. Treasury, have been helping Somalia reform its financial sector and train central bank staff.
“We have prepared all the issues and all the basic groundwork, and put in place the technical requirements,” he told VOA.
Outgoing Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met a key demand of the international community last year by signing into law parliament-approved legislation to outlaw money laundering and “financial terrorism.”
The Somali government needs $60 million to be able to begin printing banknotes. Ali said he expects to obtain pledges for that sum at an international donors’ conference for Somalia in London in May.
“We expect the international community to assist us with that issue,” the bank governor said.
Private banks, ‘mobile money’
Hardship and the scarcity of trustworthy currency has created opportunities for some innovative strategies in the private sector, Ali said, and Somalia has made some progress in establishing private banks and mobile money systems.