The restored gospel took root in Nigeria and Ghana in the two decades before it was formally preached in West Africa as different groups obtained Church literature and felt the truthfulness of the message. During that time, some of these people wrote to Church headquarters requesting missionaries. They did not come right away, however. Finally, in 1978, two couples were able to enter Nigeria and Ghana as special representatives of the Church’s International Mission. The first baptized members in West Africa were some of those who had waited many years for the coming of the missionaries. Within a year hundreds of people had been baptized and branches were organized.
On May 15, 1988, after only nine and a half years of missionary work, Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles organized the first West Africa stake in Aba, Nigeria.
In February 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley became the first President of the Church to visit Nigeria and Ghana. At his first stop in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, he addressed 12,000 members in a regional conference. During the meeting in Accra, Ghana, his announcement that the first temple in West Africa would be built there was received with joyous applause. A year and a half after the dedication of the Accra Ghana Temple on Jan. 11, 2004, a second West African temple was dedicated on June 16, 2005, in Aba, Nigeria.
The Church in West Africa continues to grow rapidly as missionaries share the gospel and as converts reach out to their families and neighbors.
In 2013, convert baptisms totaled 19,993 throughout the seven countries of the Africa West Area where missionaries are present.
Nigeria now has more than 118,000 members with 22 stakes, 22 districts and 5 missions.
Ghana has surpassed 57,000 members with 11 stakes, 7 districts and 4 missions.
Cote d’Ivoire has close to 23,000 members with 5 stakes, 1 district and 1 mission.
Sierra Leone has more than 13,000 members with 1 stake, 3 districts and 1 mission.
Liberia just passed 8,000 members with 2 districts and 1 mission.
Togo has surpassed 2,300 members with 1 stake and 1 shared mission with Benin.
Benin has more than 1,400 members with 1 district and 1 shared mission with Togo.