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20 francs / amafaranga
Rwanda 20 francs 2009
2009 coin
General information

Flag of Rwanda Rwanda


20.00 francs



Measurements and composition
  • 7.95 g (1977)
  • 3.5 g (2003-2009)
  • 27 mm (1977)
  • 20 mm (2003-2009)

1.75 mm (2003-2009)

  • brass (1977)
  • nickel-plated steel (2003-2009)


  • coin (1977)
  • medallic (2003-2009)


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The 20 franc/ifaranga coin is a current circulation piece of the Republic of Rwanda that was issued in three types from 1977 to 2009. The first type was introduced in 1977, during the military rule of President Juvénal Habyarimana (1937–1994). Over 25 years later, in 2004, a second 20 franc coin (dated 2003) was introduced during the early administration of Paul Kagame (1957–). It was followed by a slightly modified third type (dated 2009) in 2010.

The latter two coins currently circulate in Rwanda for their legal tender face values of 20.00 francs. The 1977 piece was demonetized by government decree on December 31, 2004, and is therefore no longer valid. All three types were distributed by the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), the Rwandan central bank.


First coin (1977)[]

Rwanda 20 francs 1977

1977 coin

The current Republic of Rwanda transitioned from a kingdom to the current republic following the deposition of King Kigeli V (1936–) in 1962. Two years later, in 1964, Rwanda began issuing its franc currency with its initial series of coins and banknotes. Around 1977, during the leadership of Juvénal Habyarimana, the National Bank of Rwanda commissioned the Monnaie de Paris in France to produce additional 20 and 50 franc pieces to accompany the currency already in circulation. The 20 franc coin, which would eventually replace the note of the same denomination, was designed and engraved by French artist Émile Rousseau (1927–2010), the Graveur général des monnaies at Paris during the piece's minting. Such a coin was only struck in 1977, but in relatively large quantities. In addition to circulation pieces, some non-circulated essais were produced as well.

The 20 franc piece of 1977 is composed of a brass alloy, weighs approximately 7.95 grams, and measures approximately 27 millimeters in diameter. It has a reeded edge, and like all circulating Rwandan coins of the period, it has coin alignment. The piece, similar to most coins, is round in shape. The rims of both the obverse and reverse are raised; on the former the rim is undecorated, but on the latter the rim is adorned with a border of various triangles.

Displayed in the center of the obverse is an East African Highland banana (Musa acuminata (AAA-EA)), a cultivar of banana introduced to Rwanda, often grown as a staple crop in the country. Such an illustration is surmounted by a bunch, the portion of the banana plant that holds the fruit. Printed along much of the rim of the obverse is "Banque nationale du Rwanda", the title of the National Bank of Rwanda in French, one of the official languages of the issuing country. Such text commences at the bottom periphery, and extends in a clockwise direction to the upper right boundary of the piece. The Gregorian date of the coin's minting is written in Western Arabic numerals as "1977" along the lower right side of the obverse, displayed in the same direction as the bank title, and flanked by two diamond-shaped points. Additionally, on essais the word "ESSAI" is shown in small print between the leaves of the plant at the right side of the coin and the second "A" in "RWANDA". Featured at the bottom center of the coin's reverse is the coat of arms of Rwanda of the time – which consists of a central escutcheon bearing a crossing hoe, billhook, and bow and arrow inside of a triangle surrounded by the national motto "LIBERTÉ - COOPÉRATION - PROGRÈS" (English: "Liberty, Cooperation, Progress") and the state title "RÉPUBLIQUE RWANDAISE" (English: "Rwandan Republic"). On the coin, this text is shown without the diacritics and the dashes are substituted with circular points. A dove with spread wings surmounts the escutcheon in the arms, an olive branch in a scroll is present below the escutcheon, and two crossing Rwandan flags are included behind the entire illustration. Engraved to the lower left of the arms is the cornucopia privy mark of the Monnaie de Paris, and shown to the lower right is the dolphin mark of Émile Rousseau. The numeral "20" is shown in a large font above the depiction of the arms, identifying a face value of 20 francs. Additionally, the value is written out as "VINGT FRANCS". This text is arched in a clockwise direction in the direction of the rim and inscribed in a significantly smaller font than the numeral, which separates the two words. A single diamond-shaped point is shown in the field under the "V" in "VINGT" and to the left of the arms.

A total of approximately 22,000,000 business strikes of the 1977 20 franc piece were produced, along with a limited number of non-circulated essais. Due to their rarity, the essais are considerably more expensive than their general issue counterparts.

Second and third issues (2003–2009)[]

Rwanda 20 francs 2003

2003 coin

Following the production of a final 5 franc piece in 1987, Rwanda did not circulation coins for a period of over 15 years. In 2003, however, during the early administration of President Paul Kagame, the National Bank of Rwanda commissioned a foreign mint, likely the French Monnaie de Paris or British Royal Mint, to produce a new series of coins consisting of denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 francs; a denomination of 100 francs would later be added in 2007. Of these, the 5, 10, and 20 franc pieces would be struck again in 2009 with one slight modification. Examples made in 2003 were released in 2004, and those struck in 2009 were eventually issued in 2010.

The two most recent issues of the 20 franc piece are composed of nickel-plated steel. Like all current Rwandan circulation coins, the second and third issues of the 20 franc piece have medallic alignment. They bear a reeded edge and are round in shape. The rims of both the obverse and reverse are raised and undecorated.

A plant seedling, described as either coffee (Coffea) or tea (Camellia sinensis) depending on the publication or source, is illustrated in the middle of both coins' obverses. Both plants were introduced by foreign powers to Rwanda, and have since become important crops in the nation's agricultural industry. The name of the Central Bank of Rwanda in Kinyarwanda, one of Rwanda's official languages, is engraved above, along the upper rim of the piece. However, the text differs between the years of issue. Examples made in 2003 read "BANKI NASIYONALI Y'U RWANDA", and the legend extends in a clockwise direction from the left to right peripheries of the obverse. Later specimens from 2009 instead read "BANKI NKURU Y'U RWANDA" and the words travel from the upper left to right rims. In the context used on the coins, both nasiyonali and nkuru have the same meaning. The etymology of the former, though, is rooted in the French word national, while that of the latter is derived from Kinyarwanda. Inscribed below the seedling, in a counterclockwise direction along the bottom periphery of the coin, is the Gregorian date of minting, either "2003" or "2009". Such an item is shown in a slightly larger font than the bank title. Featured at the top center of the reverse is the current seal of Rwanda – which shows an agaseke in the center, flanked by sorghum (Sorghum) and coffee, below the sun, and above a gear. Intore shields are shown to the left of the sorghum and to the right of the coffee, and a ribbon bearing the state title "REPUBULIKA Y'U RWANDA" is included above the sun. All of the aforementioned elements in the seal are surrounded by a rope tied in a square knot, with a ribbon bearing the national motto "UBUMWE - UMURIMO - GUKUNDA IGIHUGU" (English: "Unity, Work, Patriotism") below. On the coin, the dashes separating the words in the motto are not included. Printed horizontally below the seal, at the bottom of the reverse, is the numeral "20", identifying a value of 20 francs. The accompanying face value in Kinyarwanda, "AMAFARANGA MAKUMYABIRI" (English: "Twenty francs"), is inscribed along the outer periphery of the coin in a counterclockwise direction, the first word engraved at the left side of the obverse and the second at the right.

The total mintages of both the 2003 and 2009 coins are currently unknown. Only business strikes are known to have been produced for the two years. In Krause's Standard Catalog of World Coins, the existence of a 2009 piece bearing the text "BANKI NASIYONALI Y'U RWANDA" is reported. However, such a coin does not exist and is erroneously included in the well known catalog.


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