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20 ngwee
Zambia 20 ngwee 1972
1972 coin
General information

Flag of Zambia Zambia


0.20 kwacha



Measurements and composition

11.3 g


28.5 mm


2 mm








Kenneth Kaunda, state title, year

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The 20 ngwee coin is a former circulation piece of the Republic of Zambia that was issued in three primary types. The most prominent, a general circulation piece, was struck intermittently from 1968 to 1988. In 1981, an additional circulating commemorative was produced in celebration of World Food Day, and was followed in 1985 by two metal varieties of a piece memorializing the 20th anniversary of the Bank of Zambia. During the 1980s and 1990s, many of Zambia's low denomination banknotes and coins were withdrawn from circulation and virtually rendered obsolete due to high inflation. As a result, the 20 ngwee piece was discontinued, and a coin of the denomination was never reintroduced. When the Zambian kwacha was rebased in 2013, a 20 ngwee coin was not issued.

All three types of the 20 ngwee coin were distributed by the Bank of Zambia and produced under contract at the British Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales. Before the rebasing of Zambian currency in 2013, the pieces carried a legal tender face value of 0.20 kwacha. While legally they are still valid currency, the coins no longer circulate due to their low values. With 1 new kwacha equaling 1,000 old kwachas, a 20 ngwee coin currently has a value of only 0.0002 new kwachas.


General circulation coin (1968–1988)[]

See also: Zambian 2 shilling coin

As a result of social pressures in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the controversial polity was dissolved in 1963 by the British Parliament. Shortly thereafter, in 1964, the United Kingdom granted independence to its protectorate of Northern Rhodesia, a former member of the federation. The nation was then renamed to the Republic of Zambia, and Prime Minister Kenneth Kaunda (1924–) was instated as its first President. Shortly after gaining independence, Zambia introduced its own pound to replace the previous currency utilized by Rhodesia and Nyasaland. This currency, however, was very short-lived, having only been issued until 1968. It was replaced that year by the decimalized first kwacha at a rate of 2 kwacha = 1 pound (or 1 kwacha = 10 shillings). The Bank of Zambia commissioned the Royal Mint of the United Kingdom to strike the first series of coins for the currency, which consisted of denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 ngwee. All of the pieces were designed by English artist and Royal Mint engraver Norman Sillman (1921–2013). The 20 ngwee coin of the series was struck every few years from 1968 to 1988.

Zambia 2 shillings 1966

1966 2 shilling coin

The 20 ngwee piece has the same composition and measurements as the 1966 2 shilling coin, being made of cupronickel and measuring 11.3 grams in mass, 28.5 millimeters in diameter, and 2 millimeters in thickness. During Zambia's period of transition from the pound to the kwacha, 2 shillings could be exchanged for a value of 20 ngwee. By making both coins metrically (as well as aesthetically) similar, it would have been easier to discern their equivalence in value. In addition, the two pieces share the characteristics of having medallic alignment and a round shape. The rims of the obverse and reverse of the 20 ngwee coin are raised and the edge is reeded.

The designs of both sides of the 20 ngwee coin are very similar to those of Zambia's 1966 2 shilling piece. Displayed in the center of the obverse is a right-facing portrait of Kenneth Kaunda, with the state title "ZAMBIA" printed clockwise along the rim above, and the Gregorian date of minting engraved in the opposite direction at the periphery below. The likeness of the president first appeared in 1965 on a commemorative Zambian 5 shilling coin, and was later adapted for use on circulation pieces in 1966. Featured at the upper left portion of the reverse is a right-facing depiction of what is described in various publications as a bohor reedbuck (Redunca redunca), a type of antelope. Unlike the related southern reedbuck (Redunca arundinum), the bohor reedbuck does not inhabit Zambia, although it does occur in neighboring Tanzania. Engraved in a large, stylized font to the right of the antelope is the numeral "20", signifying the coin's face value. It is accompanied by a written out, left-aligned "TWENTY NGWEE", which is displayed on two horizontal lines below the reedbuck and "20".

A total of at least 13,026,000 examples were produced, including 12,998,000 pieces with a normal finish and 28,000 proofs. The proofs were struck solely in 1968 and 1978, with respective mintages of 4,000 and 24,000 coins, and were included exclusively in collectors' sets sold by the Bank of Zambia. According to the popular Standard Catalog of World Coins, standard pieces were produced in 1968, 1972, 1983, 1987, and 1989. The publication does not indicate a mintage for the 1987 coins. Of the 1968 pieces, a handful of uncirculated examples were placed into mint sets.

Year Mintage
1968 1,500,000
1968 Proof 4,000
1972 7,500,000
1978 Proof 24,000
1983 998,000
1988 3,000,000

Commemorative coins (1981–1985)[]

World Food Day coin (1981)[]

Zambia 20 ngwee 1981 WFD

1981 World Food Day commemorative

World Food Day has been celebrated on October 16 of every year from 1979 to the present, in honor of the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on October 16, 1945. The objectives of the annual observance include increasing awareness on hunger and poverty, and encouraging more agricultural production. Since 1981 the FAO has selected annual themes for the holiday in order to highlight specific areas and bring them to attention. In 1981, the Bank of Zambia contracted the Royal Mint to strike a commemorative 20 ngwee coin to celebrate World Food Day. That year's theme, "Food Comes First", is represented on the coin's reverse.

The piece is composed of a cupronickel alloy, and has a mass of 11.3 grams, a diameter of 28.5 millimeters, and a thickness of 2 millimeters. It has medallic alignment and a reeded edge, and is round in shape. The rims of both sides of the coin are raised and undecorated.

The obverse of the coin, like the general circulation 20 ngwee piece, features Sillman's likeness of Kenneth Kaunda in the center, with the state title "ZAMBIA" inscribed clockwise at the rim above, and the Gregorian date of minting written in the opposite direction at the periphery below. On the reverse, an image of a partially husked ear of corn (Zea mays) is engraved in the center, with much of the grain and four shucked leaves visible. Of the leaves, two are shown bending toward the left side of the coin, and the remaining two are illustrated curving to the right. Between each of these leaves, the letters of "FAO" are inscribed. Inside the arch created by the leftmost leaf is the date of that year's World Food Day, written on three lines in small print as "16TH OCTOBER 1981". An outlined numeral "20", which identifies the coin's face value, occupies the area under the rightmost leaf. It is accompanied by the written-out "TWENTY NGWEE", which appears on two lines below the corn. All of the aforementioned elements are enclosed within a solid circular border, outside of which, "WORLD FOOD DAY" is engraved clockwise from the coin's upper left to upper right peripheries, and "THE LIMA WAY" is printed counterclockwise from the piece's lower left to lower right rims. Two dashes, one at each side of the reverse, separate the inscriptions. The Lima Way campaign, which involved the use of hybrid seeds and chemical fertilizers in agriculture, was an effort in the 1980s to increase yields in Zambia. Corn, the crop illustrated on the coin, was overwhelmingly the most popular seed offered by the program.

A total of 970,000 examples of the coin were produced, all with a normal finish.

Bank of Zambia coins (1985)[]

Zambia 20 ngwee 1985 BoZ

Cupronickel 1985 commemorative

The Bank of Zambia was formed from the Bank of Northern Rhodesia on August 7, 1964, a few months before Zambia became independent from the United Kingdom. By law, however, the institution was not officially established until the passage of the Bank of Zambia Act in June 1965. In 1985, in the 20th anniversary of the de jure creation of the Bank of Zambia, two celebratory 20 ngwee pieces were issued for the occasion. Both coins, struck at the Royal Mint, have the same designs and measurements, but different compositions. The most common of the two, a circulating commemorative, is composed of cupronickel. The other, a non-circulating legal tender coin, is made of .925 fine silver.

Regardless of composition, both pieces share a mass of 11.3 grams, a diameter of 28.5 millimeters, and a thickness of 2 millimeters. They have medallic alignment and a reeded edge, and are round in shape. The rims of both the obverse and reverse are raised and undecorated.

Sillman's portrait of Kenneth Kaunda appears in the middle of the obverse, with the state title "ZAMBIA" inscribed clockwise along the rim above and the Gregorian date of minting, "1985", printed counterclockwise at the periphery below. A depiction of the Bank of Zambia headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia's capital, is displayed in the center of the reverse. Written horizontally above this illustration is the face value "20 NGWEE", with the "20" engraved significantly larger than the word "NGWEE". Printed clockwise at the top of the coin is the legend "BANK OF ZAMBIA", and inscribed in the opposite direction at the bottom is "20th ANNIVERSARY". These two texts are separated by two dates at each side of the reverse. "1965", which represents the date of the Bank of Zambia's founding, is written in a clockwise direction at the left side of the coin, and "1985", identifying the then current year, is printed counterclockwise at the right side.

The total mintages of both coins are currently unknown. The cupronickel piece was struck solely with a normal finish, while the silver coin was exclusively made with a proof finish.


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Zambian kwacha
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