Until a group of journalists were quizzed on the picture behind Ghana’s current biggest bank note – the GH¢50 note, everyone assumed the average Ghanaian knew the basic features of the bank notes that are used as legal tender in the country.
And why not, especially when the Ghana cedi note or currency was introduced and put in circulation barely three years ago after much fanfare, education and advertisements.
But it appears that apart from the catchphrase – “the value is the same” that run through all the adverts announcing the change in Ghana’s notes, everyone has taken for granted and indeed forgotten entirely, the basic features of the notes that we use as money for transactions in the country every day.
It was brought to the fore at a workshop organised for a select group of journalists in Accra on Thursday by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in collaboration with De La Rue of the United Kingdom, printers of Ghana’s money, that indeed, even though all Ghanaians love to work hard for their money, which is the Ghana cedi, the basic features that were trumpeted loudly through the media before the notes were put in circulation, are lost on the vast majority of Ghanaians.
The workshop, which was part of a series of education programmes on banknote and cash processing for major stakeholders of BoG such as bankers, security agencies and the media, covered the entire process of currency production, such as concept origination, design, substrates or paper types, the actual production process, currency specifications and processing systems as well as security and design features.
According to the organisers, the fourth in the series of workshops which was organised for the media, was to enable the press acquire in-depth knowledge of the processes involved in currency development and production.
It was also held to apprise the media sufficiently of banknote features – both security and print – to be able to distinguish between an authentic note and counterfeit note, as the counterfeiters the world over, are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and also enable the media transfer knowledge on security features to the public in structured interactive programmes, to enable them to distinguish between a genuine note and a fake one.
Addressing the media, an official from De La Rue, James Cummins, stated that there are basic public security features on all the notes, which every Ghanaian must know, and that those features increase as the denomination of the notes increase.
He explained that for instance the security threads differ from note to note, and that the lower denominations of the cedi have a silver-like or metallic thread, while the thread in higher denominations change in colour when they are put against light.
James Cummins revealed that other unique features of the Ghana cedi is the water mark of Tetteh Quarshie and his cocoa pod that can be found in all the notes, which would be difficult for counterfeiters to replicate and the different sizes of all the notes.
Encouraging the media to inform the public on the peculiar features of the Ghana cede, he said: “It’s not a secret, it is the opposite of a secret, we want everybody to know their money,” while disclosing that there are other security features on the Ghana cedi that shall remain a secret.
Touching on printing of the currency, the De La Rue official intimated that special inks are used, while three different printing processes – Offset, Letterpress and Intaglio are employed, disclosing that Intaglio printing is carefully controlled and that ordinary printers are not allowed to use that process.
He said between the three processes, they allow perfect registration, fine line structures, rainbow printing and tactility. The other features are serial numbers (same numbers appear vertically and horizontally on each note), phosphorescent block that can only be seen when an ultra violet lamp is used, iridescence and holographic path.
By Edmund Smith-Asante