By Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ….
To celebrate Angola’s 40th anniversary of independence from Portugal, the National Reserve Bank of Angola (Banco Nacional de Angola, or BNA) will issue new 50- and 100-kwanza coins in 2015.
BNA governor José de Lima Massano announced the new denominations on December 23, at the release ceremony for the new 20-kwanza coins. The bicolor 50- and 100-kwanza coins (coated in bronze and silver) complete the 2012 series honoring fabled Queen Njinga Mbande, who led an armed resistance against Portuguese rule in the mid-17th century. December 17 was the 351st anniversary of her death.
Over the last 40 years, the southern African country has seen four different “kwanza” currencies come and go, mainly due to a civil war between Marxist-Leninist and “anti-communist” socialist forces that raged on and off for much of that time, starting in 1975 and ending in 2002.
The first (the Angolan kwanza, or AOK) was issued immediately after independence and lasted until 1990. It traded at par (1:1) with the Angolan escudo, which itself traded at par with the Portuguese escudo. One AOK equaled 100 iwei, and coins were issued in denominations of 10, 20 and 50 iwei. One-, two-, five-, 10-, and 20-kwanza coins also circulated.
The novo kwanza (AON) existed from 1990 to 1995, and traded at par with the AOK (though Angolans could not trade all of their old notes for new ones). The AON was issued exclusively as banknotes.
The kwanza readjustado (AOR) was issued between 1995 and 1999. The AOR replaced the AON due to high inflation, with 1 AOR equal to 1,000 AON. No AOR coins were produced.
The new kwanza (AOA) has existed since 1999. Again, due to massive inflation, one AOA equals 1,000,000 AOR. Unlike previous kwanzas, the AOA is divided into 100 centimos. 50- and 100-centimo copper-plated steel coins were minted but no longer circulate. Additionally, one-, two- and five-kwanza copper-nickel coins were produced.
The currency is named for the Cuanza River, which opens into the Atlantic Ocean near the Angolan capital Luanda.