The franc is the official currency of the Republic of Rwanda, a small, landlocked nation of Central Africa. This decimal currency is subdivided into 100 centimes, but centime-denominated forms of the currency have never been in circulation. The franc was introduced as the currency of Rwanda in 1964, and it is issued by the National Bank of Rwanda. Rwandan coins in circulation are in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 francs. Banknotes are printed and circulated in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 francs. Rwanda is a member of the East African Community, a multinational cooperative organisation that plans to issue a common currency for member states, the East African shilling, before 2013.
The Rwandan franc was introduced in 1916 as the Belgian Congo franc when Belgium took over the former German colony. The Belgian Congo franc replaced the German East African rupee. In 1960, the Belgian Congo franc was replaced by the Rwanda and Burundi franc. This currency circulated for four years before being replaced by the Rwandan franc in 1964.
The National Bank of Rwanda is the country’s central bank. It was founded in 1964 just before the introduction of the Rwandan franc. The bank is a modern central bank that ensures stability of the currency and maintains a stable financial system for the country.
The economy of Rwanda is agriculturally based, but the services sector is becoming increasingly important. Although the economy was stable for years, it has not fully recovered from the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 people, or 20 percent of the total population, were killed. The growth and distribution of many crops important to the economy was interrupted causing a subsequent financial crisis in a country that already suffered from a low per capita GDP. The primary cash crops of Rwanda include coffee, tea, bananas and beans. The industrial sector of the country accounts for just over 14 percent of the total GDP, but services have recently rebounded and now account for more than 43 percent of the GDP. Tourism is becoming more popular in Rwanda every year, and in 2008, over 1 million visitors arrived to engage in activities such as tracking and viewing the native mountain gorillas.