British West Africa referred to a collection of British colonies, protectorates, and mandate territories in West Africa. Initially, it was named the Colony of Sierra Leone and its Dependencies, and then became British West African Territories, and finally British West African Settlements. The member states included Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, and The Gambia, which later became independent countries.
The currency used in British West Africa was the pound, equivalent to one pound sterling and divided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence. In the 19th century, standard British coinage circulated in the West African territories, and the sterling became the currency of choice. However, in 1912, the West African Currency Board was established in London, and a unique set of sterling coinage was issued for use in British West Africa. This move was prompted by the tendency of standard sterling coins shipped to the region to leave and return to circulation in the UK, causing a local shortage of coinage. To deal with the situation, a British West African pound was introduced. Such pounds would not be accepted in British shops, and therefore circulating locally.
The British West African pound was also adopted by Liberia in 1907, although it was not served by the West African Currency Board. The currency was also adopted in Togo and Cameroon during World War I when French and British forces ruled over the German colonies. However, beginning in 1958, individual territories in British West Africa started to replace the pound with local currencies.