We’re Millionaires!!

We’re feeling pretty rich these days because according to our Barclay’s bank statement (from the local Lusaka branch) we have over 35 million in our account!  Oh, the things I can do and the projects I can fund.

My fantasies soon crumbled when Thom called and said we needed 50 million to buy a new car.  Okay, back to reality, we’re only millionaires in the local currency, called kwatcha, for which the exchange rate is roughly 5000 kwatcha to $1.  (Depending on where you change your money, the rate can be 4620 kw to $1 up to about 4800 kw to $1).  This means that a 50,000 kwatcha bill (below) is about $10.









So, every time I go to buy something I have to calculate in my head how much the item or service is in dollars, or else I might buy what I think is a $5 camisole for $50 (at Woolworth’s no less)  like I did last September.

The 1000 kwatcha bills (see below) are typically used to tip people and are worth only about 20 cents each.










The wage / monetary system here is on a completely different scale.

Not only are the bills larger than U.S. bills, but so are the checks.  The checkbook doesn’t even fit in my purse.  As a comparison see the U.S. vs. Zambian checks below.









One thing that is slightly disturbing to me about the banking system here is that the tellers still use hand-written ledgers (and this is Barclay’s, an international banking giant!).  It’s a strange mix of modern and archaic.  When we opened our account they gave us plastic ATM cards (just like in the states) and then they hand-wrote our account number, our PIN number, the date, and had us print and then sign our names in black ink.








I can just imagine some poor soul in London receiving a box of ledgers like those above and then hand-entering all of the entries from third-world country ledgers.


About Kimm X Jayne

Gravatar Photograph from the exceptionally talented Ben Heine. http://www.flickr.com/photos/benheine/3794765860/
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3 Responses to We’re Millionaires!!

  1. Lori says:

    I remember using the ATM in Lusaka and thinking the same thing when I saw my bank balance! The feeling is fleeting…

  2. Mikey says:

    Millionaires, bah humbug. Billionaire is the new millionaire, especially, apparently, in Zambia.

  3. Maureen Witte says:

    It’s a good thing you’re staying there awhile. It’ll take quite a while to get used to that exchange rate!

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