The COVID-19 pandemic is currently causing several damages to the world, especially in the public health sector. Due to identifiability problems in parameters’ estimation of complex compartmental models, this study considered a simple deterministic susceptible– infectious–recovered (SIR)-type model to characterize the first wave and predict the future course of the pandemic in the West African countries. We estimated some specific characteristics of the disease’s dynamics, such as its initial conditions, reproduction numbers, true peak and peak of the reported cases, with their corresponding times, final epidemic size and time-varying attack ratio. Our findings revealed a relatively low proportion of susceptible individuals in the region and the different countries (1.2% across West Africa). The detection rate of the disease was also relatively low (0.9% for West Africa as a whole) and < 2% for most countries, except for Gambia (12.5 %), Cape-Verde (9.5%), Mauritania (5.9%) and Ghana (4.4%). The reproduction number varied between 1.15 (Burkina-Faso) and 4.45 (Niger), and most countries’ peak time of the first wave of the pandemic was between June and July. Generally, the peak time of the reported cases came a week (7-8 days) after the true peak time. The model predicted for the first wave, 222,100 actual active cases in the region at the peak time, while the final epidemic size accounted for 0.6% of the West African population (2,526,700 individuals). The results showed that COVID-19 has not severely affected West Africa as in other regions. However, current control measures and standard operating procedures should be maintained over time to accelerate a decline in the observed trends of the pandemic.