The first coins in North Africa were minted in the 6th Century BC at the Greek colony of Kyrene (Cyrene) in modern day Libya these first few coins show the Silphium plant, which evidently had a multitude of uses and was highly sought after, bringing great wealth to Kyrene during the ancient times. In the turmoil sweeping the ancient world left by the death of Alexander the Great, Kyrenaica became subject to Ptolemy I one of Alexander's generals. In the year of his death Ptolemy sent a step-son, Magas, to be governor. Magas initially did not change the look of the Kyrenian coins, but started adding Ptolemaic touches such as royal portraits during his revolt against his half-brother Ptolemy II. Eventually Kyrenaica was reunited with Egypt with the marriage of Ptolemy III to Magas' daughter and remained part of Egypt till Roman times with some standard Ptolemaic coins being struck at Kyrene. 

Carthage itself didn't start mining coins until the 5-4th century BCE and only as result of the Carthagian invasion of Sicily , probably as a means of paying the mecenaries in her service. In the aftermath of the first Punic War the Libyan s revolted against Carthaginian supremacy. During the 4 years of war, the rebels producing silver and gold imitations of Carthaginian coins and a few bearing, for the first time, the name " Libya ". In 149 BC Rome finally destroyed Carthage in the third and final Punic War, razing the city, sowed the fields with salt, and sold into slavery all whom they didn't kill. The Romans organized the former Carthaginian territory into the province of Africa , rebuilding the destroyed city as a Roman town. 

Following the destruction of Carthage, Numidia replaced Carthage as the primary source of coinage in the region, copying the Punic style and retaining the Punic legend.

Syrtica, didn't start making coins until the century before the Christian era. Under Roman rule Libyan Syrtica produced some municipal coppers from Leptis Magna , Oea (now Tripoli ), and Sabratha, the three towns that gave the region its later name of Tripolitania with local minting of coinage ending sometime after the reign of Tiberius.

The re-founding of Carthage in 44 BC led to the city being used as an occasional mint for provincial issues of antoniniani and such, and as a scarce mint for regular coins from the reign of Diocletian onwards. During the Roman occupation, Africa role as an important source of the "grain dole" can be found on a number of imperial issues. Following on from the Vandal invasion during the 5th century, coinage production in Carthage increased with mostly poor imitations of Roman types being minted. Retaken by the Byzantine emperor Justinian, Carthage remained a mint town, with gold and copper coins being struck down to the reign of Heraclius. 

The only other coinage producing region in Africa during this period was the Askumite kingdom (in modern day Ethiopia), which first started production in 270AD probably as a result of increasing trade connections with Rome and Arabia. It was also the first coinage to make use of Christian imagery c.330 AD.