Independence & Africanisation

History of Banking in Kenya: Independence & Africanization

The banks expanded but banking access and employment opportunities for Africans in the banking industry took time to materialize. It was only until 1910 that banking services became available to Africans. This was made possible when the Post Office Savings Bank as a department within the colonial postal service.

By March 1911 Post Office Savings Bank boasted 1,231 accounts, of which 684 belonged to Africans. Even then, the service was only available in places where officials of the colonial postal service were stationed and therefore did not reach the majority of Africans who resided in rural areas.

Decades would pass, and with each the industry saw increased Africanization – on both sides (bankers and customers).

Indeed it would take time before Kenyans took prominence. It was not until June 1963, a few months before the country became independent, that the first African manager of a bank branch – Peter Nyakiamo – was appointed. Nyakiamo was appointed sub-branch manager at the Queen’s Way branch of Barclays Bank after working for the bank for more than 15 years.

By the time Kenya became independent, the currency used by the banks in Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika was the East African shilling. This had not always been the case. Before currency was introduced in East Africa trade was conducted by barter, and later by cowrie shells and beads. The first currency to be used in the East Africa coastal region was the Maria Theresa Thaler, a silver coin introduced to East Africa between 1800 and 1850. This was replaced by the Indian rupee following the coming of British trade to East Africa.

In 1920 came the East African florin introduced by the East African Currency Board which had been set up in 1919. The florin was replaced by the East African shilling in 1922.