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What is the Currency of Nigeria?

23 Sep 2021 - Category: Blog /
naira currency

Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa. It is a massive and diverse country with a fascinating history and many overlapping cultures. If you have loved ones in Nigeria, if you want to travel there as a tourist or if you want to do business, you may want to know a bit more about the country. Learning about the currency of Nigeria is a great entry point.

In this blog we’ll be exploring everything you need to know about the currency of Nigeria.

Below you’ll learn about:

  • The Nigerian local currency, the Nigerian Naira
  • How is the Naira recognized?
  • The history of the Naira
  • The Naira today
  • Exchange rates
  • How can I send money to Nigeria?

What currency does Nigeria use?

The currency of Nigeria is the Naira. The naira was introduced in the 1970s and has since developed into one of the major currencies on the continent. The currency is controlled by the Central Bank of Nigeria and is printed and minted by the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Limited.

The naira banknotes come in a variety of colors from gleaming gold, to bright green to dark blue. The naira is the official Nigerian currency and is only used in Nigeria. Many of the neighbouring countries like Niger, Benin and Cameroon use either the West African CFA franc or the Central African CFA franc.

How is the Nigerian Naira recognized?

The naira is recognized by the sign: ₦, and by the international currency code NGN. The subunit of the naira is the kobo with one naira being equal to one hundred kobo. However, as a result of inflation the kobo coins are rarely used, with the 50 kobo being the largest kobo coin in common circulation. Other coins in common circulation include the ₦1 and ₦2. The banknotes in circulation in Nigeria include the ₦5, ₦10, ₦20, ₦50, ₦100, ₦200, ₦500 and the ₦1000.

The name for the Nigerian currency, “naira’ was coined by Chief Obamfemi Awolowo who was Premier of Western Nigeria in the 1950s and Nigeria’s Federal Commissioner for Finance from 1967 to 1971. Now we know a bit about how the naira is recognized, it's worth taking a look at the history of the naira in more detail.

The history of the Naira

The naira was first introduced in 1973. Before then Nigeria had been using the Nigerian pound. The coins of the Nigerian pound all had the name of Queen Elizabeth II on them and the naira coins introduced in 1973 were the first to be issued by an independent Nigeria.

Today the faces on Nigerian currency are different. The current naira in circulation features important Nigerian figures and political leaders such as Nigeria’s first Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

When the naira replaced the Nigerian pound the British pound to naira conversion rate was set at 1 pound for every 2 naira. Over the years the naira has been linked to the British pound and more recently it has been pegged to the US dollar at a number of levels.

The history of Nigerian currency is long and complicated. You probably still have many more questions like, “When was paper money introduced in Nigeria?”. Well, while the history of the naira began proper in 1973, one of the oldest forms of currency, Cowries, were still being used in the early twentieth century around the same time that the British first introduced paper money.

Knowing about the history of the Nigerian currency is important but it also helps to know what the naira looks like today.

The Naira today

In 2008 plans to release a Second naira were cancelled by then-President Umara Musa Yar’Adua. As a result, no redenomination of the naira occurred. New notes were introduced but the only change was the material. Many of the current naira notes in circulation are polymer banknotes that are more secure, more durable and more sustainable to manufacture than the old paper notes.

In recent years the Central Bank of Nigeria has issued some commemorative notes. One of the most significant issues was the new 100 naira commemorative note issued in 2014 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Nigeria’s existence.

The current series of banknotes feature a number of significant Nigerian figures and depictions of Nigerian culture. For example, the red ₦10 note features Alvan Ikoku on the front and illustrations of Fulani milkmaids. On the blue ₦50 note the front features Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba men and women, and the back features depictions of local fishermen.

So we know what the naira looks like today, but what about it’s value? Let’s take a look at some exchange rates which will give us a good idea of the value of the naira on a global scale.

Exchange Rates

It helps to compare the naira to other major currencies around the world. For example, by comparing the naira to the US dollar, the Euro or the Indian rupee you can get a good idea about the worth of the naira and the health of the Nigerian economy.

Then, you’ll also be able to answer questions like, “How much is $100 US in Nigeria?”, “How much is naira to dollar now?” and even, if you’re going shopping, “How much is the Iphone 11 worth in Nigerian money?”

In the opening months of 2021, the average exchange rate of the US dollar to the Nigerian naira was around 1 USD to 403 NGN. In 2020 the average exchange rate was 1 USD to 380 NGN.

According to Exchangerates.org, so far in 2021 the average exchange rate of the Indian rupee to the Naira has been 1 INR to 5.4 NGN. Whereas so far in 2021, the average exchange rate of the Euro to the Naira has been hovering around 1 EUR to 480 NGN.

Knowing these exchange rates will also help you if you are travelling to Nigeria or if you want to send money to loved ones in Nigeria.

How can I send money to Nigeria?

Sending money to Nigeria is easy with Small World’s international money transfer service. For many years, Small World has been helping people all over the world support their loved ones. Today it’s easier than ever. With Small World, you can send money to Nigeria from our agents, branches, online or through our app.

You can send money to Nigeria with Small World via Anywhere Pickup or Bank Deposit. Both methods are quick, simple and secure. Small World has facilitated millions of money transfers all around the world. So if you need to support your loved ones in Nigeria you can rely on Small World.

Your first transfer online is always free of fees!



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