Highest and strongest currencies in Africa 2023

Is any African currency stronger than the dollar? In this up-to-date currency ranking, discover the top 10 highest currencies in Africa in 2023.

Map of Africa on a globe - Top 10 highest currencies in Africa

Africa's exclusion from the global currency ranking is a no-brainer to many, given that it is home to the world's ten most undeveloped countries. Nevertheless, several legal tenders on the continent command respect in the foreign currency market; hence, this list of the highest and strongest currencies in Africa in 2023.

The economic disaster plaguing the continent is typified by the Sao Tomean Dobra, the lowest currency in Africa, which also doubles as one of the world's weakest.

Dozens of African currencies are higher than the Naira, Nigeria's official currency, even though the Nigerian economy is Africa's largest economy with the highest nominal GDP, an influencing factor in currency valuation.

The United States dollar (USD) remains the global benchmark when ranking currencies; therefore, this ranking of the strongest currencies in Africa is based on each currency's dollar strength or purchasing power.

Ranked in ascending order, below are the top 10 highest currencies in Africa in 2023:

10. Egyptian Pound

The Egyptian pound, denoted by the sign E£, is the 10th highest currency in Africa and the official currency of the Arab Republic of Egypt, one of Africa's richest countries.

Initially backed by precious metals, the Central Bank of Egypt started a managed float in 2001 before switching to a float in 2016. Before the float, one dollar was equivalent to 8.8 Egyptian pounds but rose to about 15 Egyptian pounds per dollar after undocking.

The EGP's use as an unofficial currency in Sudan and the Gaza Strip solidifies its status as one of Africa's strongest currencies.

In reaction to the detrimental COVID-19 lockdown measures of 2020, Egypt reduced interest rates to stabilise the currency. However, the nation continues to have one of the highest real interest rates in the world, which has aided in the sale of treasuries and the protection of the currency but discouraged borrowing.

The Egyptian pound is also one of the most valuable currencies in Africa because Egypt has the second-highest nominal gross domestic product on the continent, behind only Nigeria.

9. Zambian Kwacha

The Zambian Kwacha (ZMW), issued by the Bank of Zambia as the country's official legal tender, is the 9th highest currency in Africa.

Despite being one of the strongest currencies in Africa, the Zambian Kwacha is not often traded by currency speculators due to its susceptibility to inflation and instability over time.

Zambia is the biggest copper producer in Africa, hence, its currency is prone to erraticism based on the fluctuation of commodity prices in the global copper market.

The Kwacha replaced the pound in 1968, after Zambia's independence from the United Kingdom.

The Zambian Kwacha's difficult-to-control inflation rate has contributed to the plight of many Zambians but has not stopped it from becoming one of Africa's most valuable currencies.

Both the Namibian Dollar and the Lesotho Loti are more valuable than the Egyptian Pound and Zambian Kwacha at 18.52 to the dollar. However, the two currencies are pegged to the South African Rand. This mechanism maintains a steady exchange rate between the three nations and ensures that the cost of products remains the same across the three currencies regardless of the numerous economic events that may occur. While currency linking are not a factor for this ranking, both currencies were excluded since they are pegged to a continental rather than an intercontinental currency.

8. South African rand

Launched in February 1961, the South African Rand is the 8th highest currency in Africa which, until the end of apartheid, had a relatively steady exchange rate with the US dollar.

Since then, its value has depreciated as the South African economy has grown more integrated with the global economy.

Several nations in the area, including Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland, peg their currencies to the South African Rand, which can only strengthen its position as one of the strongest currencies in Africa.

Since it stands as the most traded legal tender in Africa and one of the top 20 globally, the South African Rand is arguably Africa's best currency.

In essence, the ZAR's value is related to the price of gold, South Africa's primary export in its early years. The rand, however, remains at the mercy of global uncertainty owing to South Africa's frail economy and unstable political scene.

7. Eritrean Nakfa

The Eritrean Nakfa (NFK) ranks 7th amongst the highest currencies in Africa and is Eritrea's official legal tender.

The Nakfa has experienced stability throughout the years as a result of the Eritrean government's preference for a fixed exchange rate versus a floating currency.

6. Seychellois Rupee

The 6th highest currency in Africa, the Seychellois rupee, is also the strongest currency in East Africa as a result of Seychelles' market economy.

Foreign investment as well as the bloom of agriculture, fisheries, and small-scale industrial industries have led to the growth of the country's economy. This has contributed to the diversification of Seychelles' gross domestic product.

The fact that Seychelles has the largest GDP per capita in Africa has also contributed to the SR's ranking as one of the strongest currencies in Africa.

Another factor behind the high value of the Seychellois rupee is that Seychelles is the smallest nation with an independent monetary policy.

5. Botswana Pula

The Botswana pula (BWP) is the 5th highest currency in Africa and the strongest currency in Southern Africa. It has been in use since 1976, eleven years after Botswana's independence from the British.

Despite the 2005 depreciation of the legal tender, the BWP remains one of the strongest currencies in Africa, with a Pula equaling 0.08 dollars.

Pula is synonymous with rain in Setswana, the most widely spoken language in Botswana. The absence of precipitation across most of the country's surface implies that its basic definition and phrase are regarded as a gift.

Due to Botswana's robust economy and generally stable democracy, the BWP has remained one of the most valuable currencies in Africa. It is also an appealing currency since it is traded on Africa's biggest stock exchange, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

4. Ghanaian Cedi

The Ghana Cedi (GHS), the fourth historical legal currency of the Republic of Ghana, is the most valuable currency in West Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. Also the 4th highest currency in Africa, the GHS replaced the GHC in 2007 following years of inflation-induced depreciation.

According to a Bloomberg research, the GHS was the best-performing currency in the world versus the dollar in 2020. The US agency reported that the Ghanaian Cedi increased by 3.9%, the greatest rise among the more than 140 legal tenders monitored, making it one of the strongest currencies in Africa.

The Ghanaian currency declined by 54.2% versus the US dollar during the first eleven months of 2022, according to economic and financial statistics released by the Central Bank (Bank of Ghana, BOG) in November. This made the cedi the worst performing currency in the world, ahead of the Sri Lankan rupee, which lost 45 percent of its value versus the U.S. dollar.

During the period under consideration, the Ghanaian currency likewise lost 48.9% and 50% of its value relative to the pound sterling and the euro. As a consequence, the Ghanaian Cedi dropped a spot on this ranking of Africa's most valuable currencies.

This predicament is mostly the result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict which has caused an increase in import costs and, therefore, a larger outflow of foreign currency.

In addition to the stifling inflation, this situation  forces Ghana to spend much more foreign currency to honour its obligations to international creditors.

Government expenditure initiatives and employment development have helped maintain the currency's strength, and the GHS is more valuable due to Ghana having the highest GDP per capita in West Africa.

3. Moroccan dirham

The dirham (MAD), the primary unit of legal tender in Morocco, is the 3rd highest currency in Africa. It cannot be traded outside the nation and is virtually immune to bank-influenced price swings.

In the Western Sahara area, the Moroccan dirham is the de facto medium of exchange; and although it remains unregulated, its export is prohibited by law.

The dirham was implemented on October 17, 1959, under the administration of Abdallah Ibrahim, after the founding of Bank Al-Maghrib and the elimination of the Moroccan franc, which had been in use since 1921. Since its inception, the MAD has been one of the strongest currencies in Africa.

2. Libyan Dinar

At 4.77 LYD to the dollar, the Libyan dinar is the 2nd highest currency in Africa. The LYD replaced the Libyan pound in 1971, when Muammar Gaddafi deposed King Idris in a coup, and was minted at the same value as the Libyan pound.

The Central Bank of Libya is responsible for manufacturing, issuing, and controlling the currency, which consists of 1,000 dirhams per dinar.

Although it remains one of the strongest currencies in Africa, the LYD has progressively depreciated against major currencies like the U.S. dollar, the British pound, and the euro over the years.

The continued slump in value may be traced to various factors, with the decline in oil prices on international markets being the most significant. Since oil sales are Libya's primary source of income, the waning global depenence on oil has had a detrimental effect on the dinar.

1. Tunisian Dinar

With a dollar conversion rate of 3.07 Dinars, the Tunisian Dinar (TND) is, in 2023, the highest currency in Africa. The TND was launched in 1958, two years after Tunisia's independence from France, while the Tunisian franc was in force.

After the franc's depreciation, the TND was pegged to the USD at a rate of 0.42 dinars to 1 dollar, which remained in place until 1971.

Tunisia's historically low inflation rate has contributed to the rise of the TND over the years to the top of the African currency rankings. From 2000 to 2010, it saw less volatility than Egypt and Morocco, two neighbouring oil-based economies.

To enhance its status as the most valuable currency in Africa, the Tunisian government declared it illegal to import, export, or convert dinars into another currency.