The first time I visited Uganda in December 2018 I was excited. Despite missing my connecting flight in Nairobi my spirit could not be dampened. I didn’t know much about Uganda, but I knew that for the first time in my life, I was going to be a multi-millionaire.

As the aircraft touched down in Entebbe, I cleared immigration as fast a possible and headed straight to a Barclays ATM not far from the airport. As the machine swallowed my card, I was greeted with the personalized message from VISA and asked to punch in my pin code, I obliged. The following screen asked me how much I wanted to withdraw, without hesitation, I typed in 1million.

The machine gave me an error, stating that it is unable to despatch that kind of money at one go, and so I proceeded to withdraw 400000 twice and then 200000 to make it 1 million.

Now before you think I am rich, half a million was due to the shuttle driver who had made two trips to Entebbe to pick up our crew of 8. The other half a million was for me to spend, a feat I manage in just 1 day.

It is clear, I was not rich, this was just the tricks different currencies play on our perspectives. The Ugandan shilling is about 255 to the South African Rand, which obviously gives you an illusion of riches when you look at your bank balance upon arriving in Uganda. I have gone on to experience similar effects with the Malawian Kwacha and the Tanzania Shilling, while I have had the experience reversed with the Botswanian Pula and the Zambian Kwacha.

This got me thinking, which is the strongest currency in Africa, and so I give you the top 10 African currencies measured against the US dollar.

  1. Libyan Dinar (1 USD = LD 1.41)
  2. Tunisian Dinar (1 USD = DT 2.87)
  3. Ghanaian Cedi (1 USD = GH₵ 5.49)
  4. Moroccan Dirham (1 USD = MAD 9.89)
  5. Botswana Pula (1 USD = P 10.90)
  6. Zambian Kwacha (1 USD = ZK 13.14)
  7. Seychellois Rupee (1 USD =SR 13.64)
  8. South African Rand (1 USD = R 14.87)
  9. Eritrean Nakfa (1 USD = Nfk 15.00)
  10. Egyptian Pound (1 USD = E£ 16.30)

Source Tuko, 2020

So which curency surprised you on this list? Leave us a comment…