Interesting! The First Bank In Nigeria

The First Bank In Nigeria

  • The first bank in Nigeria was founded by Sir Alfred Jones, a shipping magnate from Liverpool, England in 1894. With the name, Bank of British West Africa.
  • The banks name was changed from Standard Bank of Nigeria to First Bank of Nigeria in 1979.

Today we get to discuss about banks and we shall be starting that category with a topic woven around the first bank in Nigeria.

As we already Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa and both local and global business monetary transactions take place in the country on a daily basis and in large volumes.

To bring order to these hundred of thousands of financial dealings. A bank is needed and the first bank in Nigeria is one of the oldest business enterprise in the country, with a colonial era tied to its foundations.

Business has always thrived in Nigeria, even in colonial times and colonies such as Nigeria became part of British imperial expansion that focused on exploiting raw materials, minerals, and foodstuffs important to Western industrial development. The country became a colonial market with great economic importance.

Britain tried to encourage tropical export crops in Nigeria and to stimulate demand there for British manufactured goods. The colonies built a railroad network between the 1890s and World War II, and constructed roads at an accelerating rate after the 1930s. Spreading economic embers to different parts of the colony.

These developments, along with the introduction of the pound sterling as the universal medium of exchange, encouraged export trade in tin, cotton, cocoa, groundnuts, and palm oil. And their monetary values were also moving, back and forth. 1

But it was in 1894, that the first bank in Nigeria was founded by Sir Alfred Jones, a shipping magnate from Liverpool, England. With the name Bank of British West Africa (BBWA).

So Who Is Alfred Lewis Jones? (1845 – 13 December 1909)

We already know that he is the founder of Bank of British West Africa which happens to be the first in the country. But we will be throwing more lights on some other important facts about this man.

He was not always a ship owner. He actually started out as an apprentice to the managers of the African Steamship Company at Liverpool, with several records of making successful voyages to the west coast of Africa .

Apprenticed at twelve years old, he would become the manager of the business at age twenty six. Tired of the same limits over and over again, borrowed money purchasing two to three small sailing vessels, and consequently starting how own shipping business which turned out to be very successful.

In the early 1900s Alfred Jones had a monopoly on the Congo-Antwerp mail traffic as well as consular duties representing King Leopold’s Congo State in Liverpool.

He took the leading part in opening up a new line of communication with the West Indies, and in stimulating the Jamaica fruit trade and tourist traffic.

He also developed the tourist trade in the Canary Islands and the banana industry there.

He was President of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. And was instrumental in founding the
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

He died unmarried on 13 December 1909. But before his death he was honored with the following:

He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) on 9 November 1901, in recognition of services to the West African Colonies, and to Jamaica and invested as such by King Edward VII at St James’s Palace on 17 December 1901.

He was also elected an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford in May 1902.

Bank of British West Africa

The history of first bank in Nigeria started with the local agents of Elder Dempster & Co. of Liverpool, shipping magnate Alfred Lewis Jones and George William Neville. Who were attempting develop a banking operation along the Guinea coast in 1891. Which would serve as the foundation that would later transform into the banking and finance industry of today.

In 1892 African Banking Cooperation (which was formed in 1890 by Lloyds Bank , National Provincial,
Westminster , and Standard Bank of South Africa) took over the banking operations in Lagos, Nigeria of shipping company Elder Dempster.

But within a year ABC wished to withdraw from Lagos. They would later sell the operation to A.L. Jones and Elder Dempster in 1893. The duo had only recently created created Bank of British West Africa (BBWA).

The Bank was incorporated as a Limited Liability Company on 31st March 1894, with a head office in Liverpool. It began trading under the corporate name of the Bank for British West Africa (BBWA) with a paid—up capital of £12,000, after absorbing its predecessor, the African Banking Corporat

In 1894 ABC transferred the branches in Lagos and Tangier to BBWA. Eventually moving on to get branches in Liverpool, London, and Manchester.

The Bank of British West Africa would establish a branch in Accra in 1896. Assigned with the main business of distributing silver coins of which, the bank was the sole supplier.

In 1902, it opened another branch in Sekondi . It opened an agency in Obuasi in 1905, which it raised to the status of a branch in 1909. In 1906 it opened a branch in Kumasi .

As the only bank in the country, it would also play the role of the Central Bank in Ghana. Moving on to dominate commercial banking in that country.

In the spirit of expanding its empire, the Bank of British West African would expand to Freetown in Serra Leone by establishing a branch there in 1898.

Establishing a branch in Bathurst, The Gambia in 1902 and another in about 1910 in Tenerife , in the Canary Isles

More branches popped up in Douala, Cameroon (1915), Alexandria , Egypt (1918) and Hamburg , Germany (1937).

In 1912, the Bank acquired its first competitor, the Bank of Nigeria (previously called Anglo-African Bank) which was established in 1899 by the Royal Niger Company. 2

Bank of British West Africa changed its name to Bank of West Africa (BWA) in 1957. And in 1965, Standard Bank acquired BWA, and renamed it Standard Bank of West Africa.

Standard Bank merged with Chartered Bank to form Standard Chartered Bank  in 1969. The merger would later spill into Standard Bank of Ghana, Standard Bank Nigeria, and Standard Bank of Sierra Leone.

In 1971 — Standard Bank of Nigeria placed 13% of its share capital with Nigerian investors. After the Nigerian Civil war. Standard Chartered Bank’s investment in Standard Bank Nigeria fell to 38%, and that was when the bank changed its name to First Bank of Nigeria in 1979.

Standard Chartered sold its remaining shares in First Bank of Nigeria in 1996.

And that is the summarized history of how the first bank in Nigeria came into existence. The of thge current bank is telling the tale of how its long history as the Nigerian bank that first came on board.

Conclusively, First Bank Nigeria is the first bank in Nigeria.


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