Ghana has redenominated its currency the cedi in an attempt to make life easier for both shoppers and business people who are reportedly fed up with carrying large bundles of cash that makes them easy targets for thieves. But critics of President John Kufuor’s government say the process has been shrouded in secrecy. Sources say although a cross section of Ghanaians are excited about the new currency, conversion has been a challenge. In the new currency, one cedi is worth 10,000 old cedis and is divided into 100 pesewas (the smallest unit of the cedi).
Solomon Ahadzi is a broadcaster with Citi FM an independent radio station. From the capital Accra, he tells VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey that Ghanaians are excited about the prospects of the new currency denomination.
“The new cedi was supposed to be available at the ATM’s (Automated Teller Machines) and the banking halls of the various banks today (Tuesday), and Ghanaians are very excited about it. A lot of people look forward to seeing the various currencies. What they’ve seen are pictorial depictions, and there has been a chart that tells you about how it’s converted, and on that chart you can see the picturesque impressions of the various currencies and what they look like,” he noted.
Ahadzi said although Ghanaians expected the new currencies Tuesday, their hopes were dashed when some of them could not have access to the new money.
“The Republic Day was marked yesterday, and a lot of people went to their various ATM’s and banking halls, highly expecting to see the currencies for themselves. So people are really excited about it; they want to have a feel of it; they want to have a touch of the currency, and they want to see what it looks like,” he said.
He said some sections of the public were not conversant with the conversion of the new currency.
“The major one has been about the ability of prospective users to convert the money. It’s supposed to be 100 Ghana pesewas is equal to one Ghana cedi, or 10,000 cedis is equal to one Ghana cedi, and that has come with some level of difficulty. We did our own samples in town, we hit the market, we hit the street, and tried to ask people their understanding of what the conversion would be like. And they tell us, well it was not complete though, but a lot of them are of the opinion that once it (the currency) becomes the legal tender for the country, we would be able to understand it and get familiar with it,” he pointed out.
Ahadzi said the minority in Ghana’s parliament is unhappy about why the government has not informed the nation about the cost incurred in the redenomination of the currency.
“This is what is available if you go to parliament, the minority tells you, which is to a certain extent I would say is true that a full account of how much the redenomination is going to cost the country has not been made in parliament either to the minority or to the whole house (parliament) or the finance committee, how much the country is going to incur undergoing this exercise,” Ahadzi said.
He said there have been divergent views about the timing of the Kufuor administration’s currency redenomination exercise.
“Now, various factions have expressed the opinion that Ghana is undergoing so many problems. They say there is the energy crisis and therefore, there is the need for the money that we will use in undergoing this project to address these other concerns. But some people are equally of the opinion that this is the best time because we are in the middle of the year… and the two currencies are supposed to run concurrently. Some people have also expressed the view that it is purely a political exercise,” he said.
Ahadzi said he welcomes the redenomination of the currency.
“What I personally think is that it is not entirely a bad exercise because the cost of doing business in Ghana now is very expensive and it’s very dangerous. Imagine you have to do a transaction that requires 10 million cedi. You really have to carry a lot of money on you just because you need so many notes to pay for so little. So, when you look at it both ways of course just like any other act of man, it comes with its odds and ends,” Ahadzi noted.