Saturday, June 16, 2007

Dinars, Pounds, Shillings, US Dollars?

A country with a confused currency system is likely to be unstable and underdeveloped.

Thinking about the money here just gives me a headache! Here is what I have come to understand about the currency following many long and painful conversations with shopkeepers...

- There used to be an old Sudanese pound. The exchange rate (to USD) used to be about 2000 to 1.
- Then they changed to Sudanese Dinar. The exchange rate is about 200 to 1.
- Now they introduced a new Sudanese pound which is at the ex change rate of about 2 to 1.

The Sudanese Dinar and the New Sudanese pound are both currently in circulation, and on top of that people still give you prices in old Sudanese pounds with millions of zeros to completely confuse you.

Right now people are waiting in line to trade in their Sudanese Dinars for the new Sudanese Pounds in order to only have one currency, but who knows how long that will take?
And of course money is a political thing... The old Dinar has Islamic symbols as the water mark while the new Sudanese Pound is deliberately neutral (with an eagle).

When you are close to the border with Kenya everyone wants Kenyan shillings, and when you are close to the border with Uganda they want Ugandan shillings. It's probably the same when you approach the Ethiopian border but I haven't made it there yet.

And here in South Sudan, US Dollars expire! Who knew that there was an expiration date on money, like on milk? Ok, they are probably right, dollars more than a few years old are easier to counterfeit, but it makes me laugh when they tell you that you have "expired money" and refuse it.

Essentially in order to be able to make purchases in this part of Sudan you should have Sudanese Dinars, Sudanese Pounds, Kenyan Shillings, Ugandan Shillings, non expired US Dollars, ( and a calculator!) with you at all times.

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