The British West African Pound was the currency of British West Africa, a group of British colonies, protectorates and mandate territories - Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana (originally Gold Coast) and Gambia. From 1907 till 1911 the reverse of the coins showed the legend NIGERIA BRITISH WEST AFRICA, then from 1912 the word NIGERIA was discontinued.
The British West African Pound was equal to the (pre-decimal) Pound Sterling and was similarly subdivided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence. Unlike its Imperial counterpart though, the British West African Pound - uniquely among British colonies - also had a denomination worth one tenth of a penny - due to the low standard of living in the African colonies, where people had considerably less money than people elsewhere. The denomination was worth 1/2,400th of a pound (i.e., 2,400 of these coins made one pound).
This type was the earliest aluminium coinage in the world to go into circulation. The Royal Mint in London commenced mintage of these coins in 1906, and in 1907 also produced aluminium one cent coins for British East Africa. However, the aluminium coins suffered from corrosion and were soon replaced with copper-nickel coins of the same design.
After decolonisation, the coins were replaced by the various new countries as they introduced their own independent currencies:
- Nigeria introduced the Nigerian Pound in 1958
- Ghana introduced in Ghanaian Pound in 1958
- British Cameroon (on unification with Cameroon) adopted the Central African CFA Franc in 1961
- Sierra Leone introduced the Leone in 1964
- Gambia introduced the Gambian Pound in 1965
In some places, British West African coins circulated in parallel with the new coinage until 1968.