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|Togo is an emerging democracy, with a President who has been in office for over 30 years. It has a directly elected unicameral legislature with limited powers.|
From Slavery to Dictatorship: A Brief History of Togo’s Struggle
The protests for the removal of Faure Gnassingbé in Togo rage on in Togo. After a dictatorship that has lasted fifty years the people of Togo are demanding a change. One of the conditions of this change is the immediate removal of Faure Gnassingbé. Faure’s term is set to end in 2020 and when asked why the people of Togo do not let Faure finish complete his term before leaving office, Togolese activist Farida Nabourema explained:
To really understand the historical scope of the struggle being waged right now in Togo I think it is necessary to provide some historical context for those who are unfamiliar with Togo’s history. Like most African nations, Togo’s history within the last few centuries has been a history of constant struggle for liberation against European colonizers and their African allies. Togo was one of the many African nations that were impacted by the slave trade. In fact, Togo was located in the region of West Africa that was known as the “Slave Coast” because of how many Africans were taken from that region.
Little Popo, which is today known as Aného, was one of the largest centers of slave trading activity in the Slave Coast. The people of Little Popo were frequently at war with many neighboring kingdoms, including Dahomey. Prisoners of these wars were captured and sold into slavery. The Portuguese were the first set of Europeans to trade for slaves in Little Popo, but slave trading activity in Little Popo would increase significantly when the Dutch and the British became involved. The French would also get involved in the slave trade in Little Popo. The French Compagnie du Sénégal launched a series of voyages to Little Popo in an attempt to acquire slaves. By 1772 the Danes were also involved in the slave trade in Little Popo.
It may be tempting to think of the ones that escaped being captured and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean as being fortunate, but the ones that escaped being captured were often left the wonder about the fate of the friends and family that they lost in the slave trade. Robert Campbell, who was born in Jamaica, recorded an encounter he had with a chief in Nigeria named Ogubonna:
Not only did the slave trade separate communities, but it had a very destabilizing impact on African societies. The European slave traders often instigated conflicts between Africans or exacerbated existing rivalries because more warfare meant more prisoners of war that could be sold to the European slave traders. Alexander Falconbridge worked as a doctor on the slave ships and he observed that during periods in which there was a decline in slave trading activities there was also a significant decline in African warfare as well. The slave trade not only increased the amount of warfare in Africa, but the introduction of European firearms ensured that these wars were bloodier and more destructive than warfare traditionally was in Africa. Little Popo was one of the many African kingdoms where firearms and the demands of the slave trade made warfare more frequent and destructive than it had been in the past. The slave trade also caused depopulation in many parts of Africa. In the Kongo Kingdom, for instance, King Afonso complained that so many of his people were being stolen by slave traders that his kingdom was being depopulated. Among those that were stolen were some of Afonso’s own relatives, including one of his grandchildren.
The abolition of the slave trade was followed by the Scramble for Africa, in which most of Africa was conquered and colonized by the invading European powers. Liberia, which was a nation that was established by Africans from the Americas, was not formally colonized by any of the Western powers, although since its formation Liberia was effectively an American colony in West Africa. Ethiopia also escaped being colonized after they defeated the Italians. Togo was colonized by the Germans.
German rule in Togo was brutal. The Togolese people were often forced to labor for little or not pay. Floggings were one of the means that was used to coerce the population into forced labor. After their defeat in World War I, the Germans were forced to give up their African colonies to the victories Allies. German Togoland was partitioned between the British and the French. British Togoland would go on to become part of Ghana and French Togoland became Togo. French rule was also harsh and exploitative. One incident that illustrates the oppressive nature of French rule occurred in 1932 when the French administration attempted to impose new taxes on the Lomé market women. This sparked widespread protesting from the market women. The protest achieved its aims, but it also demonstrated that unless African people, particularly African women, were protesting in massive numbers then their concerns were of little regard to the colonial governments that ruled over them.
Togo became independent from France in 1960 and Sylvanus Olympio became Togo’s first president. Olympio was the descendant of Afro-Brazilians who returned to Togo. Aside from Togo, Brazilian returnees also settled in Ghana, Nigeria, and Benin. Olympio was assassinated in 1963. Prior to his assassination Olympio was planning to remove Togo from the CFA Franc currency and issue Togo its own currency. Shortly after Togo began taking the steps to print its own currency Olympio was assassinated in a French supported coup. By 1967 Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who was one of the leaders in the plot to kill Olympio, installed himself as the dictator of Togo. He established a dictatorship that continues on to this day.
Over the last 400 years the people of Togo have suffered the ravages of the slave trade, colonialism, and a brutal dictatorship. Centuries of such brutalities have not broken the spirits of the Togolese people, however, and they continue to fight against the forces that oppress their country.
Dwayne is the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora. His books are available through Amazon. You can also follow Dwayne on Facebook.
Executive Branch of Government
Togo’s executive branch of government is composed of the president, prime minister, and Council of Ministers. The president is elected by eligible citizens of Togo every five years. However, the past elections have not been credible, and as a result, the country’s democracy has been compromised. The president is the chief commander of the armed forces in Togo. Additionally, the president has the power to dissolve the country’s parliament. Togo’s president appoints the prime minister, who serves for five years. The prime minister heads the government of Togo. Members of the Council of Ministers are nominated by Togo’s prime minister and appointed into office by the president.
27. Togo (1960-present)
Pre-Crisis Phase (April 27, 1960-November 30, 1961): Togo formally achieved its independence from United Nations trusteeship under French administration on April 27, 1960. Sylvanus Olympio of the Committee of Togolese Unity (Comité de l’Unité Togolaise-CUT) was elected without opposition to a seven-year term as president on April 9, 1961. Legislative elections were held on April 9, 1961, and the Committee of Togolese Unity (Comité de l’Unité Togolaise-CUT) won 52 out of 52 seats in the National Assembly. A new constitution was approved in a referendum on April 9, 1961.
Crisis Phase (December 1, 1961-March 18, 2010): The government suppressed a rebellion on December 1-2, 1961. On January 8, 1962, the government of Togo accused the government of Ghana of having supported the rebellion. President Olympio survived an attempted assassination in Lomé on January 21, 1962. President Olympio was killed during a military rebellion led by Emmanuel Bodjolle on January 13, 1963, and an eight-member military junta took control of the government on January 14, 1963. Nicholas Grunitsky formed a provisional civilian government on January 17, 1963. President Grunitsky abrogated the constitution and dissolved the National Assembly on January 17, 1963. A new constitution was approved in a national referendum on May 5, 1963. Nicholas Grunitsky of the Togolese People’s Movement (Mouvement des Personnes Togolaises-MPT) was elected president on May 5, 1963. Government troops suppressed a rebellion led by Noe Kutuklui, leader of the Congres Unite Togolaise (CUT), in Lomé on November 21, 1966. President Grunitzky was deposed in a military coup led by Lt. Colonel Étienne Gnassingbé Eyadéma on January 13, 1967. Lt. Colonel Gnassingbé Eyadéma declared a state-of-emergency, suspended the constitution, and banned political parties. Lt. Colonel Gnassingbé Eyadéma declared himself president on April 14, 1967. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma imposed a one-party political system on November 29, 1969. The only legal political party was the Rally of the Togolese People (Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais-RPT). President Gnassingbé Eyadéma was re-elected without opposition in a national referendum on January 13, 1972. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma issued a new constitution, which was approved in a referendum on December 30, 1979. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma was re-elected without opposition on December 30, 1979. Legislative elections were held on December 30, 1979, and the Rally of the Togolese People (Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais-RPT) won 67 out of 67 seats in the National Assembly. The government issued a warrant for the arrest of Gilchrest Olympio on July 13, 1979. The Togolese Movement for Democracy (Mouvement Togolais pour la Democratie-MTD) was established by Gilchrest Olympio in Paris in opposition to the government of President Eyadema in February 1979. Legislative elections were held on March 24, 1985, and the Rally of the Togolese People (Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais-RPT) won 77 out of 77 seats in the National Assembly. The Association of African Jurists (AAJ) conducted a fact-finding mission (Cameroon, Guinea, Morocco, Senegal) to investigate allegations of human rights abuses on December 18-23, 1985. Amnesty International (AI) condemned the government for human rights abuses on June 16, 1986. Members of Togolese Movement for Democracy (Mouvement Togolais pour la Democratie-MTD) rebelled against the government of President Gnassingbé Eyadéma in Lomé on September 23-24, 1986, resulting in the deaths of at least 26 individuals. The government of Togo accused the governments of Ghana and Burkina Faso of involvement in the rebellion, and requested French military assistance on September 25, 1986. President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire expressed support for the government on September 25, 1986. The French government deployed 250 paratroopers in support of the government of Togo, and Zairean government deployed 350 troops in support of the government of Togo on September 26, 1986. President Babangida of Nigeria, president of the Economic Communist of West African States (ECOWAS), expressed support for the government. President Ronald Reagan of the U.S. expressed support for the government. The Chinese government expressed support for the government on October 4, 1986. French and Zairean troops were withdrawn on October 5, 1986. Gilchrest Olympio and twelve other individuals were convicted and sentenced to death for their involvement in the rebellion on December 20, 1986. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma was re-elected without opposition on December 21, 1986. Legislative elections were held on March 4, 1990, and the Rally of the Togolese People (Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais-RPT) won 77 out of 77 seats in the National Assembly. Opponents of the government demonstrated against the government in Lomé on October 5, 1990, resulting in the deaths of four individuals. The Alliance of Togolese Democrats (Alliance des Democrats Togolais-ADT) was established on December 13, 1990. Opposition political parties established the Front of Associations for Renewal (FAR) headed by Yao Agboyi-Bor on March 14, 1991. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma legalized opposition political parties on April 12, 1991. A national conference convened in Lomé from July 8 to August 28, 1991. The national conference dissolved the National Assembly on July 16, 1991, and elected Joseph Kokou Koffigoh as prime minister on August 27, 1991. The government suppressed three military rebellions between October 1 and November 28, 1991, resulting in the deaths of at least 20 individuals. The transitional government (High Council of the Republic-HCR) headed by Prime Minister Joseph Kokou Koffigoh dissolved President Gnassingbé Eyadéma’s Rally of the Togolese People (Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais-RPT) on November 26, 1991. Prime Minister Koffigoh requested military assistance from France on November 28, 1991, and the French government deployed 300 troops to neighboring Benin on November 29, 1991. Prime Minister Koffigoh was seized by rebel soldiers during an attack on his residence on December 3, 1991, resulting in the deaths of 17 individuals. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma permitted Joseph Kokou Koffigoh to form a provisional government as prime minister on December 30, 1991. Gilchrist Olympio, leader of the Union of Forces for Change (Union des Forces du Changement-UFC), survived an assassination attempt in the Assoli region on May 5, 1992, resulting in the deaths of ten individuals. Tavio Amorin, leader of the Pan-Africanist Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste Panafricain-PSP) and a member of the High Council of the Republic-HCR, died as a result of a armed attack by government police on July 29, 1992. A new constitution was approved in a referendum on September 27, 1992. The Togolese Union for Democracy (UTD) and other opposition political parties formed the Patriotic Front (PF) in October 1992. The U.S. government imposed military sanctions (suspension of military assistance) against the government of Togo in November 1992. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma dismissed Prime Minister Joseph Kokou Koffigoh on January 13, 1993, but re-appointed him to the position on January 18, 1993. Government troops and anti-opposition demonstrators clashed in Lomé on January 25-30, 1993, resulting in the deaths of thirty-one civilians and four government soldiers. Some 300,000 individuals fled as refugees to Ghana and Benin. The German government imposed economic sanctions (suspension of development assistance) against the government on February 4, 1993, and the French government imposed economic sanctions (suspension of development assistance) against the government on February 11, 1993. France and Germany mediated negotiations between representatives of the government and opposition groups in Colmar, France beginning on February 8-9, 1993. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma survived an attempted assassination by armed opponents on March 25, 1993, resulting in the deaths of two individuals. Some 20 individuals were subsequently executed for their involvement in the assassination attempt. Government troops killed three opposition demonstrators in Cinkasse on April 15, 1993. Prime Minister Joseph Kokou Koffigoh formed the Coordination of New Forces (Coordination des Forces Nouvelles-CFN) on June 11, 1993. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma, representing the Rally of the Togolese People (Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais-RPT), was re-elected with 96 percent of the vote on August 25, 1993. Opposition political parties had boycotted the presidential election. The governments of France and Burkina Faso sent observers to monitor the presidential election. Some 20 individuals were killed by government troops throughout the country on August 24-27, 1993. The European Union (EU) imposed economic sanctions (suspension of economic assistance) against Togo in September 1993. The government suppressed a rebellion in Lomé on January 5-7, 1994, resulting in the deaths of some 100 individuals. The French government resumed economic assistance to the government of Togo in 1994. On January 14, 1994, Amnesty International (AI) alleged that 48 individuals had been executed for their involvement in the rebellion. Legislative elections were held on February 6-20, 1994. The Patriotic Front (PF), including the Action Committee for Renewal (Comité d’Action pour la Renouveau-CAR), won 43 out of 81 seats in the National Assembly. The Rally of the Togolese People (Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais-RPT) won 35 seats in the National Assembly. The International Monitoring Committee (IMC), an ad hoc group of personnel representing the Association of African Lawyers (AAL), monitored the legislative elections. Three individuals were killed in political violence in Lomé on February 14, 1994. Edem Kodjo, leader of the Togolese Union for Democracy (UTD), was named prime minister on April 22, 1994. The Action Committee for Renewal (Comite d’Action pour le Renouveau -CAR) announced a boycott of the National Assembly on November 7, 1994. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) established a mission to provide repatriation assistance to 100,000 Togolese refugees in Ghana and Benin from April 26, 1996 to July 1997. Prime Minister Kodjo resigned on August 19, 1996, and Kwassi Klutse formed a government as prime minister on August 27, 1996. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) sent a four-member pre-election assessment delegation to Togo on June 4-11, 1998. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma was re-elected with 52 percent of the vote on June 21, 1998. The European Union (EU) sent 40 observers to monitor the presidential election, and reported that there were flaws in the electoral process on June 25, 1998. The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) sent nine observers from eight countries headed by Isaac Nguema of Gabon to monitor the presidential election from June 15 to June 27, 1998. The Center for Contemporary Diplomacy (CCD), a non-government organization based in New York, sent eleven observers to monitor the president election. Opposition presidential candidate, Gilchrist Olympio, claimed victory in the presidential election and called for demonstrations against the government. Several individuals were killed in political violence after the elections. President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana offered to mediate negotiations between the parties. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma invited opposition political parties to join a government of national unity in August 1998, but the political parties rejected the offer. President Eyadema met with opposition leaders to discuss national reconciliation in November 1998. The European Union (EU) renewed economic sanctions against the government of Togo on December 14, 1998. Legislative elections were held on March 7 and March 21, 1999, and the Rally of the Togolese People (Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais-RPT) won 79 out of 81 seats in the National Assembly. Opposition political parties boycotted the legislative elections. Prime Minister Klutse resigned on April 17, 1999. Mustapha Niasse of Senegal, representing the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie(OIF), attempted to mediate negotiations between the parties beginning on May 4, 1999. French, German, and EU representatives attempted to mediate negotiations between the parties beginning on May 4, 1999. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma appointed Koffi Eugene Adoboli as prime minister on May 22, 1999. Negotiations between representatives of the Togo government and opposition groups convened in Paris on June 9, 1999. Four opposition political parties, including the Togolese Union for Democracy (UTD), merged to form the Pan-African Patriotic Convergence (PAPC) on August 16, 1999. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) appointed Ide Oumarou of Niger to mediate negotiations between the parties on April 18, 2000. On June 7, 2000, the United Nations (UN) and Organization for African Unity (OAU) established a joint three-member commission of inquiry (Brazil, Chad, Mauritania) headed by Mahamat Hassan Abakar of Chad to investigate allegations of government killings of Togolese in June 1998. Prime Minister Eugene Koffi Adoboli resigned on August 27, 2000, and President Gnassingbé Eyadéma appointed Gabriel Messan Agbeyome Kodjo as prime minister on August 29, 2000. The U.S. government resumed military assistance to the government of Togo in 2001. The UN-OAU issued a report on February 23, 2001. France, Germany, and the EU ended their mediation efforts on May 31, 2002. Legislative elections were held on October 27, 2002, and the Rally of the Togolese People (Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais-RPT) won 72 out of 81 seats in the National Assembly. Several opposition political parties, including the Union of Forces for Change (Union des Forces du Changement-UFC) headed by Gilchrist Olympio, boycotted the elections. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma was re-elected with 58 percent of the vote on June 1, 2003, and he was inaugurated on June 20, 2003. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma died of a heart attack in Tunisia on February 5, 2005, and President Eyadema’s son, Faure Gnassingbé, was named as president by the Togolese military. President Jacques Chirac of France and the African Union (AU) condemned the “military coup” in Togo on February 6, 2005. The Nigerian government imposed diplomatic sanctions (suspension of diplomatic relations) and economic sanctions (flight ban) against the government of Togo on February 11, 2005. Government troops clashed with anti-government demonstrators in Lomé on February 14, 2005, resulting in the deaths of at least three individuals. The ECOWAS imposed military sanctions (arms embargo), economic sanctions (travel ban on government leaders), and diplomatic sanctions (suspension of membership) against the government of Togo on February 19, 2005. President Faure Gnassingbé resigned on February 25, 2005, and El-Hadj Bonfoh Abass, president of the National Assembly, was appointed as interim president. The African Union (AU) imposed diplomatic sanctions (suspension of membership) and military sanctions (arms embargo) against the government of Togo on February 25, 2005. The ECOWAS lifted military sanctions, economic sanctions, and diplomatic sanctions against the government of Togo on February 25, 2005. Nigeria lifted diplomatic sanctions and economic sanctions against the government of Togo on March 10, 2005. Seven individuals were killed in political violence in Lomé on April 16, 2005. Faure Gnassingbé was elected president with 60 percent of the vote on April 24, 2005, and he was inaugurated as president on May 3, 2005. Government troops killed nine individuals in the town of Aného on April 26-27, 2005. Opposition leader, Emmanuel Bob-Akitani, disputed the results of the presidential election and declared himself to be the winner. The ECOWAS sent 120 observers to monitor the presidential election. Some 500 individuals were killed, and some 38,000 individuals fled Togo as a result of post-election violence. The ECOWAS began mediation between the government and opposition political parties on April 30, 2005. The African Union (AU) lifted diplomatic sanctions and military sanctions against the government of Togo on May 27, 2005. President Faure Gnassingbé appointed opposition leader, Edem Kodjo, as prime minister on June 9, 2005. President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, representing the ECOWAS, mediated negotiations between representatives of the government and opposition political parties beginning on August 10, 2006. Government and opposition political parties signed the ECOWAS-mediated Global Political Agreement in Lomé on August 21, 2006. The GPA provided for the establishment of two commissions that will be responsible for establishing the truth on crimes and human rights violations following the 2005 presidential election, and for promoting political reconciliation in Togo. In order to support the political reconciliation process in Togo, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) established an office in Lomé in November 2006. Legislative elections were held on October 14, 2007, and the Rally for the Togolese People (Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais-RPT) won 50 out of 81 seats in the National Assembly. The Union of Forces for Change (Union des Forces du Changement-UFC) won 27 seats in the National Assembly. The European Union (EU) sent 18 long-term observers and 62 short-term observers led by Fiona Hall from Britain to monitor the legislative elections from September 8 to November 3, 2007. The European Parliament (EP) sent six observers and three staff members led by Marie-Arlette Carlotti of France to monitor the legislative elections from October 11 to October 16, 2007. The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) and the African Union (AU) sent observers to monitor the legislative elections. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sent 152 observers to monitor the legislative elections on October 2, 2007. President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, representing the ECOWAS, mediated negotiations between President Faure Gnassingbé and Gilchrist Olympio, leader of the Union of Forces for Change (Union des Forces du Changement-UFC), in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on November 2, 2007. The European Union (EU) lifted economic sanctions (suspension of economic assistance) against the government on November 27, 2007. Government security forces raided the home of former Defense Minister Kpatcha Gnassingbé, the half-brother of President Faure Gnassingbé, on April 14, 2009, resulting in the deaths of two individuals. The government accused Kpatcha Gnassingbé of plotting a coup against President Faure Gnassingbé. On February 18, 2010, the ECOWAS deployed 146 military observers from 13 member-states led by Colonel Siaka Sangare of Mali to assist Togolese police in providing security for and preventing violence during the upcoming presidential election. President Faure Gnassingbé, representing the Rally for the Togolese People (Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais-RPT), was re-elected with 61 percent of the vote on March 4, 2010. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sent 150 election observers led by Dr. Babacar N’diaye from Senegal to monitor the presidential election from February 26 to March 5, 2010. The European Union (EU) sent 30 long-term observers and 100 short-term observers led by José Manuel García-Margallo of Spain to monitor the presidential elections from January 19 to March 23, 2010. The African Union (AU), Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine-UEMOA), Community of Sahel-Saharan States (Communauté des Etats Sahélo-Sahariens-CEN-SAD), and Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) sent observers to monitor the presidential election. Opposition political parties claimed election fraud. On March 18, 2010, the Constitutional Court confirmed the re-election of President Faure Gnassingbé in the March 4th presidential election.
Post-Crisis Phase (March 19, 2010-present): The government banned political demonstrations on March 26, 2010. Gilchrest Olympio, leader of the Union of Forces for Change (Union des Forces du Changement-UFC), agreed to join a coalition government on May 27, 2010. On September 1, 2010, former Defense Minister Kpatcha Gnassingbé, who was arrested by government security forces in April 2010, went on trial in the Supreme Court for plotting to overthrow President Faure Gnassingbé. Former Defense Minister Kpatcha Gnassingbé was sentenced by the Supreme Court to 20 years in prison on September 15, 2011. Ten government policemen and 17 protesters were injured in demonstrations against electoral reforms in Lomé on June 12-14, 2012. Legislative elections were held on July 25, 2013, and the Union for the Republic (Union pour la République-UR) won 62 out of 91 seats in the National Assembly. The Save Togo Collective (Collectif Sauvons le Togo-CST) won 19 seats in the National Assembly. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sent 80 observers led by Ambassador Leopold Ouédraogo of Burkina Faso to monitor the legislative elections. The African Union (AU) sent 32 observers led by Kabine Komara of Guinea to monitor the legislative elections from July 16 to July 31, 2013.
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Located on Africa’s west coast, Togo is bordered by Ghana, Benin, and Burkina Faso and is home to approximately 7.8 million people. Although the poverty rate fell from 61.7% in 2006 to 53.5% in 2017, poverty and inequality remain extremely high, particularly in rural areas where 69% of households were living below the poverty line in 2015.
This is largely attributable to a high annual population growth rate of 2.5% that is outpacing development progress, concentrated economic growth in the modern sectors, and limited access to quality services. Poverty is also higher in female-headed households (57.5%), and vulnerability is higher among women because they have fewer economic opportunities.
Togo’s score on the human capital index (HCI) remains low at 0.41. This means that children born in Togo today will be only 41% as productive when they grow up as they could be if they had access to good health, education, and nutrition.
The ruling Union pour la République (UNIR) party has dominated the political scene for several years, and won 59 of the 91 seats in the National Assembly in the 2018 legislative elections. Presidential elections held on February 22, 2020 returned the incumbent, Faure Gnassingbé, to power. At the helm since 2005, Gnassingbé is now serving his fourth five-year term.
On September 28, 2020, Victoire Tomégah-Dogbé was appointed Prime Minister, becoming the first woman to hold this position in Togo's political history.
For the first time in 32 years, Togo held local elections in June 2019 to elect municipal councilors. The UNIR secured a majority, winning 878 of the 1,490 seats.
- The COVID-19 pandemic could slow the economic momentum of recent years. Despite the unfavorable international economic conditions, marked by heightened trade tensions and a persistent security threat, Togo’s economy continued to perform well in 2019, with an estimated 5.3% growth rate that was driven by an upturn in public investment, expansion in the construction sector, and improved agricultural productivity. The services sector nevertheless remains the main engine of growth thanks to expanding port and airport operations. However, the crisis triggered by the global coronavirus pandemic is expected to lead to a decline in growth to 1% in 2020.
- Inflation returned to negative territory in December 2019, driven by an ample food supply owing to increased agricultural productivity and lower communication costs. Average annual inflation dipped slightly from 0.9% in 2018 to 0.7% in 2019.
- A rebound in capital goods imports and a reduction in exports increased the current transactions deficit from 3.5% of GDP in 2018 to 4% in 2019. Foreign direct investments and concessional loans helped finance the current account deficit. Reforms to improve public financial management with IMF and World Bank support reduced debt, which fell from 76.2% of GDP in 2018 to 70.9% of GDP in 2019. The fiscal deficit stabilized at 1.2% of GDP in 2019, which is below the threshold set in the convergence criteria of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).
Growth prospects will be severely undermined by the duration and intensity of the COVID-19 crisis. The slowdown in global economic growth, coupled with the prevention measures for containing the virus contagion, could reduce production, domestic consumption, and exports. Revenues could plummet, whereas additional expenditures are essential to a robust health and economic response and the protection of businesses and households hardest hit by the crisis.
The government’s current development policy has been included in its National Development Plan (PND) for the period 2018-2022. The overarching goal is to structurally transform the economy in order to foster strong growth, social inclusion, job creation and to modernize institutions through investments in the digital technology.
World Bank Group engagement in Togo is aligned with this PND and guided by a Country Partnership Framework for the 2017-2022 period. This framework is financing projects in key areas:
- private sector development and job creation
- improvements in the governance of all sectors and in human capital
- provision of essential public services, in particular access to water and health
- environmental sustainability and resilience.
As of March 31, 2020, the World Bank’s portfolio in Togo had 10 national projects and 6 regional programs, for a total commitment of over $490 million provided mainly by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group institution that helps the world’s poorest countries.
COVID-19 Response: On April 29, 2020, the World Bank also disbursed $8.1 million in emergency financing to help Togo combat the coronavirus pandemic and implement its response strategy which is articulated around three goals:
- Saving lives by strengthening the health sector and providing the necessary equipment to health care facilities.
- Restoring people’s lives and livelihoods though cash transfers and social safety nets to protect the poor households.
- Rebuilding the economy by helping firms and financial institutions regain a solid footing and by supporting the agriculture sector.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group institution focused on private sector development, is prioritizing access to financing for small and medium Togolese enterprises through local banks. IFC strategy in Togo also centers on projects in agribusiness, infrastructure, and manufacturing.
IFC also provides advisory services in the financial, energy, and manufacturing sectors, and is helping the government implement reforms aimed at improving the investment climate in the country. This support has helped improve Togo’s ranking in the World Bank Group’s Doing Business report from 137th in 2019 to 97th in 2020, making Togo the leading reformer in Africa and third best in the world.
IFC’s portfolio in Togo stands at approximately $330 million, allocated primarily to the financial, energy, and transport sectors.
Examples of the progress made by Togo with financing or technical assistance from the World Bank Group are as follows:
- Lower electricity connection costs have made it easier to do business
- Land tenure reform has resulted in streamlined procedures and a sharp reduction in property transfer costs
- Access to information on credit, expansion of coverage from the Office de crédit, and the introduction of reporting of data from utility companies have also helped foster entrepreneurship.
Agriculture and agricultural productivity
- strengthened the capacities of the Togolese Agricultural Research Institute (ITRA) and the Advisory and Technical Support Institute (ICAT)
- supported the expansion of regional trade in agricultural technologies and innovation, as well as the improvement of national seed production and distribution systems
- significantly increased the production of certified seeds from 1,260 metric tons to almost 2,600 metric tons, of which 1,674 metric tons were for maize and 751 metric tons for rice. Average gross income per hectare rose from CFAF 136,059 per producer to CFAF 286,969 for maize producers and from CFAF 137,910 to CFAF 231,632 for rice producers
- disseminated 30 different technologies through agricultural extension and advisory services, NGOs, and producer organizations
- provided scholarships to 77 managers, 12 of whom were women, to pursue master’s or doctoral degrees, with a view to strengthening the country’s capacity in agricultural research and related disciplines.
- more than 150,000 farmers, 80,000 livestock producers, 4,700 fishers, 33.43% of whom are women, to help them develop strategic subsistence crops such as maize, rice, cassava, pineapple, honey, soy, and peanuts, and export crops such as coffee, cocoa, and cotton.
- the processing of agricultural products by helping establish 20 service companies and producer organizations and create over 56,500 jobs.
To date, PASA has used its partial financing mechanism for subprojects to finance 190 agricultural microenterprises and support 206 fish farms.
Livestock production and food security
Although home to 13% of the global population, Africa provides just 4% of the world’s poultry products. Established in 2014 under the World Bank-financed African Centers of Excellence Project, the Regional Center of Excellence on Avian Sciences (CERSA) is seeking to revolutionize the poultry sector in West and Central Africa:
- CERSA attracts students of different nationalities and offers doctoral and master’s degree programs, as well as short-term professional courses for poultry technicians
- Its 58 Ph.D and 173 master’s students from 12 African countries are conducting research to support the local and regional poultry industry
- Since its establishment, the institute has provided technical training to over 900 poultry farmers in Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal
- Several partnerships with other universities in Africa, Europe, and China have enabled CERSA to promote research and knowledge sharing among practitioners
- It has also forged strategic partnerships with key players from the private sector and major manufacturers to promote the industrialization of the sector in Africa.
CERSA’s success has paved the way for Togo to establish two new centers of excellence for sustainable cities and energy.
External financial assistance has continued to increase since international donors reengaged with Togo in 2007 and the World Bank Group is working closely with Togo’s other development partners. The European Union has ramped up its financial and technical support, and the African Development Bank has prepared and implemented a new Country Strategy for 2016–2020. Bilateral partners (China, France, Germany, and the United States) are also increasing their support for Togo’s development.
To channel this financial aid more effectively, a government initiative has established aid coordination committees by sector.
Togo: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*
1. Togo and its surrounding regions were known as “the slave coast” between the 16th and the 18th century because Europeans would come to the region in search of slaves.
2. Togo has a rich history of religion. It has 29% Christians, 20% Muslims and 51% indigenous people.
3. Togo has secular celebrations. Some of the celebrations include 1 January – Fete Nationale and 27 April – Independence day. These celebrations open a window for job opportunities and they attract more tourists.
4. Traditional healing methods are widely used in Togo. Each center has an herbalist. Medical treatments usually involve frequent visits to the house of Vodou and the local Fetish priest.
5. The public show of affection is minimal in Togo. Only men and boys are allowed to walk holding hands. Coupling is discretely secret and it is not steered by parents. It is only in some ethnic groups like the Tchama that parents make arrangements for courting.
6. Togolese usually have two to three meals a day and they are very hospitable. Each meal consists a large portion of starch such as maize, cassava, and rice. Proteins served with day meals usually include goat meat, fish, and beans.
7. Food is not served in ceremonial functions except when carrying out animist rituals when animals are sacrificed, cooked and served. However, beer and gin are essential. The French three or four meal course is served to the wealthy middle class Togolese during functions.
8. The society in Togo was divided according to traditional and non-traditional lines. The kings, Vodou priests, and paramount chiefs are the elite. The educated, business professionals and government officials entail modern elite.
U.S. Relations With Togo
The United States established diplomatic relations with Togo in 1960, following its independence from a French-administered trusteeship. In 1963, Togo experienced the first post-independence presidential assassination in Africa, led by Eyadema Gnassingbe. Eyadema formally became president in 1967 and ruled until his death in 2005. The current president, Faure Gnassingbe, is Eyadema’s son. While Faure came to power in a flawed 2005 election, the international community deemed subsequent presidential and parliamentary elections generally free and fair. In February 2020, President Faure Gnassingbe won a fourth term, and appointed a new government in October 2020. Togo went through a period of political upheaval in 2017 and early 2018 as the historically divided opposition united in an effort to prevent President Faure Gnassingbe from standing for a fourth presidential term in 2020. Regional mediation culminated in the opposition boycotting legislative elections in December 2018. The ruling party, controlling all votes in parliament, subsequently adopted constitutional reforms limiting presidential mandates to two terms. These reforms, however, are not retroactive, allowing President Faure the ability to stand for the 2020 and 2025 elections. In June 2019, the government held local elections for the first time in 32 years, expanding the number of elected officials from 91 parliamentarians to over 1,600 total elected officials . The government has undertaken significant economic reforms over the last several years, including professionalizing the security forces, in part through U.S. assistance. Togo launched a realistic and comprehensive five-year national development plan in 2018 that guides future development and economic initiatives. The United States and Togo have good relations and the United States seeks to work with Togo to consolidate democratic gains and economic growth.
U.S. Assistance to Togo
U . S .-provided assistance to Togo focus es on health, military education and training , and promoting economic growth. Although USAID does not have a full mission in Togo, the country benefits from a number of program s managed out of the USAID West Africa Regional Mission located in Accra, Ghana. In fiscal year 2020, PEPFAR began a two-year, $ 9 million program in Togo with the aim of helping Togo quickly attain UNAIDS HIV/AIDS targets .
US D epartment of A griculture made Togo a priority country in fiscal year 2019 and Togo is benefi t t ing from a $20 million 5-year Mc Govern-Dole Program. In February 2019, the Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a $35 million Threshold program to aid reforms in the telecommunications industry and land title sector which entered-into-force in November 2020 .
The Peace Corps established its presence in Togo in 1962, and ha d 84 volunteers in the field, working on projects in agriculture, education, and health , until Peace Corps suspended global operations due to the 2020 COVID pandemic . Togo has made significant efforts to maritime and regional securit y and contribut es over 1,200 troops to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Togo has a market-oriented economy, and the country is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Togo hosted the 2017 Africa Growth and Opportunity Act Forum. The United States has a significant trade surplus with Togo. U.S. exports to Togo include mineral fuel s , vehicles, p lastics , and food products, while U.S. imports from Togo include artificial flowers, feather or down articles, shea butter, and cocoa. Togo’s export processing zone, established with U.S. Government support, has attracted private investors interested in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and food processing, primarily for the export market. A 100-megawatt power plant is among the largest electricity investments in Togo and one of the largest single private U.S. investments in West Africa. The two countries have signed a treaty on investment and economic relations. The United States also has a trade and investment framework agreement with the West African Economic and Monetary Union, of which Togo is a member. Togo is working with the United States and other development partners to improve the investment climate and commercial infrastructure. Togo has the deepest natural port on the west coast of Africa. The government is working to expand the port and road network to make Togo a better option for regional transshipment.
Togo’s Membership in International Organizations
Togo and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.
The U.S. Ambassador to Togo is Eric Stromayer other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List .
Togo maintains an embassy in the United States at 2208 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 tel: (202) 234-4212.
More information about Togo is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
The movement towards democracy is in doubt in Togo. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma’s rule ended on February 5, 2005 when he became gravelly ill and died midflight over Tunisia while being transported by plane for care in another country. He had governed over a one party system during most of his rule. His successor should have been the President of the Parliament, Fambaré Ouattara Natchaba, until a new election within sixty days according to the Togolese constitution. However Natchaba was out of the country in Paris, and the Togolese army, known as Forces Armées Togolaises (FAT) closed the nation’s borders forcing his Air France plane to land in Benin instead. The army declared that the communications minister, Eyadéma’s son Faure Gnassingbé, would be the successor. The following day Parliament also changed the constitution retroactively so that Faure would finish out his father’s term and rule until the next elections in 2008. Faure Gnassingbé was sworn in February 7 2005 with parliament moving to remove Natchaba as president under the justification that he was out of the country.
The takeover received international criticism with the African Union calling it a military coup and the United Nations also putting on pressure. In Togo there were many riots and uprisings such as a large civilian uprising followed by a massacre by government troops in the town of Aného. This event went largely unreported and the total violence left several hundred dead mainly in the south. Faure Gnassingbé resigned on February 25th and agreed to hold new elections. However he accepted the nomination and ran again in April. On April 24 2005 he defeated his chief rival Robert Akitani from the Union des Forces du Changement (UFC). The official records note he won over 60 percent of the vote but fraud is suspected since there was no independent oversight such as the European Union. Other allegations are that ballot boxes were stolen from southern polling stations and shutdowns of telecommunications were imposed to impact the results. Until the inauguration Deputy President, Bonfoh Abbass, was declared the interim President by Parliament. Current president Faure Gnassingbé was sworn in on May 3, 2005.
Poverty in Togo
LOMÉ, Togo — One of the smallest countries in Africa, Togo is bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the East and Burkina Faso to the North. Togo has a population of around 6.6 million people.
Togo is one of the poorest countries in the world. Quality of life there is low. With a life expectancy of only 56 years, almost 50 percent of the population is under 18 years of age.
Extreme poverty in Togo causes a range of problems: one of them is access to education. Togo has a 50 percent participation rate in primary and secondary education. This low rate is related to the low level of adult literacy, which is at is at 60 percent. It is also explained by the fact that child labor is also at almost 30 percent. Children who come from extreme poverty often have to leave school to help support their families.
Poverty causes issues relating to hunger and malnutrition as well. Currently, 30 percent of children are affected by stunting and as little as 40 percent of the population has access to improved water sources.
Only 38 percent of the population live in urban areas, making the majority of the population rural. A shocking 82 percent of the rural population lives in poverty. The total percentage living in poverty is not much better at almost 60 percent.
Poverty in Togo has worsened in the past 20 years due to the fact that aid was withheld from the country starting in 1993 in response to the government’s human rights violations. Although Gnassingbe Eyadema led a coup in 1967 and held power until 2005, elections were held at various times starting in the 1990s. A joint U.N.-Organization of African Unity investigation found that during these elections opposition had been suppressed and hundreds of people killed.
Human rights violations continued after 2005 when Gnassingbe’s son Faure claimed power. He stepped down briefly for elections, which he won. The opposition claimed the elections were rigged and the U.N. found 500 people had been killed and 40,000 people had fled their homes.
Sadly, removing foreign government aid to an already impoverished country only hurts the local population. As previous evidence has shown, giving aid directly to those who need it most can be more effective than giving it to a corrupt government. Aid should have been redirected in Togo instead of stopped.
Even if the county isn’t receiving much direct aid, intergovernmental organizations are still trying to help Togo develop and decrease poverty. The World Bank released this year that its Community-Driven Development Project (CDD) for Togo had satisfactory results. The aim was to reduce poverty “through community-level initiatives” that are helped by “well-structured support and implementation mechanisms.” The government, assisted by the World Bank, can work on support for community development.
The UNDP is also helping Togo develop its tourism industry, which it believes will create jobs and increase the country’s GDP. The government’s goal is to “increase the contribution of tourism to its national economy from two percent to seven percent by 2020.” The UNDP will assist Togo in the formation of this plan to increase tourism.
Helping Togo develop is a good place to start. Fifteen years of socio-economic decline has left Togo in a difficult position, so any type of assistance is helpful. However, the average Togolese is still suffering. Real assistance to the country has only really started again since 2005. Aid organizations have begun to start work in the country but progress is slow. The World Food Programme still responds mostly to emergency situations and hasn’t been able to set up any long term programs.
The need for aid in Togo is great, but unlike many other developing nations which receive large amounts of aid, it has to be increased if they are to alleviate poverty and povertyrelated issues.
The president of Togo is elected for 5 years. The president is also the commander of the armed forces. The president also has the right to begin legislation and dissolve parliament.
After Togo's independence from France, General Gnassingbé Eyadéma became the military leader. When Eyadéma died in 2005, his son Faure Gnassingbe became president.
Togo is divided into 5 regions. The regions are divided into 30 prefectures and 1 commune. From north to south the regions are Savanes, Kara, Centrale, Plateaux and Maritime.
The largest cities in Togo are: