The Bank of West Africa was a British Overseas bank that was important in introducing modern banking into the countries that emerged from Britain’s West African colonies.
The bank was established in Lagos, Nigeria in 1893, under the name of Bank of British West Africa, by shipping magnate Sir Alfred Lewis Jones.
In 1896 the bank established a branch in Accra, Ghana. Its main business was the distribution of silver coins, of which it was the sole supplier. As the only bank in the country at the time, it came to play a unique role in the economy, acting as the Central Bank. Bank of British West Africa expanded its network to cover most of the main business centres in the Gold Coast and went on to dominate commercial banking in Ghana. Further branches were established in Freetown, Sierra Leone (1898), Bathurst, The Gambia (1902), Tenerife (1910), Douala, Cameroon (1915), and Alexandria (1918).
In 1957 the bank changed its name to Bank of West Africa.
In 1965 Standard Bank acquired Bank of West Africa, and renamed it Standard Bank of West Africa. By 1974 Standard Bank of West Africa had only two branches left, both in The Gambia, and in 1978, Standard Bank of West Africa transferred these two branches to Standard Bank Gambia Ltd.