Sunday, April 30, 2006 Africa's New Kind of Money Laundering -- Page 1 Africa's New Kind of Money Laundering -- Page 1: "African money is among the dirtiest in the world — literally. Many African central banks simply don't replace notes until they fall apart. In countries torn by war, like the Democratic Republic of Congo or Sierra Leone, years can pass before new notes are printed. In Somalia a few years back, bank notes became so scarce that warlords started printing their own money, causing inflation, predictably, to skyrocket.

Now the continent's most populous country is trying to clean up its currency's act. In recent weeks, the Central Bank of Nigeria has launched a campaign urging citizens to take better care of their money. Advertisements in newspapers, magazines and on television ask Nigerians to 'Stop the Abuse of the Naira' and 'Handle the Naira With Pride,' referring to the Nigerian currency that was introduced in 1973 and originally worth just over $1.50.

The public service campaign may seem unusual, but in many ways it simply reflects the country's desperate economic situation. During the oil crisis of the early 1980s — when Nigeria was awash with petro-dollars and its president boasted to his neighbors that his country's problem was not poverty but how to spend all its money — the Naira was almost worth $2. Since then, though, military rule, corruption and mismanagement have crippled the country's economy and its currency. One U.S dollar is now worth around 140 Naira."

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