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COUNTRY PROFILES


PROFILE

Country Profile

Area: 21,900 sq miles
Population: 6.6 million
Capital City: Lome; Population: 740,000
People: Eweand Kabye are the main ethnic groups.
Language(s): French is the official language. Kabye,Ewe and Dagomba are the most widely spoken of the African languages.
Religion(s): Christianity, Islam and with an indigenous African traditions/beliefs arepractised.
Currency: CFA Franc
Head of State: President Faure Gnassingbe
Prime Minister: Gilbert Houngbo.
Membership of international groupings/organisations: Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), African Union (AU), the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC). Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).

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ECONOMY

Basic Economic Facts

GDP: US$2.9bn (2009)
Annual Growth: 3.1% (2009)
Inflation: 2.08%% (2009)
Main economic sectors: Agriculture (cocoa, cotton, coffee), phosphate, re-exports.
Major trading partners: The EU (principally France and the Netherlands), China, Ghana, and other Francophone West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso).
Exchange rate: 1 Euro = 655.957 FCFA
Togo is among the world's poorest countries. , The global recession compounded Togo’s economic difficulties in 2009 slowing its recovery from prolonged domestic crisis. There has been growth in GDP since 2007 because of favourable weather and government subsidies for fertilizer and a fall in Inflation reflected in lower food and fuel prices.

Phosphate mining and revenues and employment from the international port have provided the country with the means to survive. The port's activity has increased as a result of the political crisis in Cote d’Ivoire and 're-export' (processing incoming goods for export within the sub-region) is now the largest export sector. However, the cotton sector has been damaged by mismanagement and low international prices.

The parastatal in charge of the phosphate sector was put into private management in 2001, but the state took back management control in 2003. The volumes of phosphates mined have declined in recent years, mainly due to depletion of readily accessible reserves. Privatisations in the banking and telecoms sector are stalled. It is hoped that the West Africa Gas pipeline project, which was completed at the end of 2007, will supply Togo with Gas from Nigeria, will make energy cheaper and help to alleviate Togo's balance of payments problems.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) (http://www.imf.org/external/index.htm)

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HISTORY

Current day Togo was, from 1894, part of the German protectorate of Togoland. In 1919, the French took over the eastern part of Togoland under a league of Nations Mandate. The British took over the western part. In 1956, in a UN organised plebiscite, the majority of the population of British Togoland chose to merge with the neighbouring Gold Coast colony. The following year that region became part of the newly independent state of Ghana. French Togoland voted in 1956 to become part of the French Community. In 1960 the territory voted in favour of independence, which was granted in 1960. Sylvanus Olympio, the leader of the Comite d’Unite Togolaise, became President.

Olympio was killed in 1963 in a military coup led by then Sergeant Etienne Gnassingbe Eyadema. Eyadema invited Olympio's brother-in-law Nicolas Grunitzky to form a civilian government. However, the military refused to allow a multiparty political system to develop, and Eyadema eventually took full power in 1967, creating a one party state under a new political party, the Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais, (RPT) in 1969.

Eyadema's rule was dictatorial. All independent political activity was repressed. In 1977, Gilchrist Olympio, the son of the first President, was accused of being behind an attempted invasion from neighbouring Ghana. Plots to overthrow Eyadema throughout the 1970s and 80s, whether real or not, served as a pretext for further repression of opposition activity and purges within the army.

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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Togo's Relations with Neighbours

Togo has generally enjoyed good relations with its West African neighbours. However, relations with Ghana were strained when Eyadema and Jerry Rawlings were in power - both accused the other of supporting dissidents to their regimes. Both Benin and Ghana have periodically received refugees from the political instability in Togo. Relations with Ghana improved following the election of John Kufuor as President in Ghana, who enjoyed warmer relations with Eyadema. Eyadema was involved in conflict mediation in Sierra Leone (in the late 1990s) and more recently in Cote d'Ivoire. Togo contributed troops to the ECOWAS stabilisation forces in Guinea-Bissau in 1999 and in Liberia in 2003.

Togo's relations with the International Community

Togo has enjoyed close, if complex, relations with its two former colonial powers - France and Germany. Eyadema was particularly close to the French Gaullist tradition, having served in the French colonial army in the 1950s. He enjoyed good relations with President Chirac, who frequently defended his record. Relations with Germany on the other hand, and with the EU as a whole, were marked by controversy over democracy and human rights. Relations with the EU have improved considerably since the political reforms put in place since Eyadema’s death.

Togo is a member of the French backed Franc Zone organisation the Union Economique et Monetaire Oeust Africaine (UEMOA), and of the Libya backed organisation CENSAD (previously COMESSA).

Zone Franc (IZF) (http://www.izf.net/izf/index.htm)
Union Economique et Monetaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA) (http://www.uemoa.int/index.htm)

African Union (http://www.africa-union.org/)

Relations with the UK

Bilateral relations between the UK and Togo are minimal. There is no development aid programme.

Diplomatic Representation

Togo has no resident diplomatic mission in the UK. The nearest Togolese Embassy is in Paris, which is accredited to the UK.

The British High Commissioner in Accra, Ghana, is accredited to Togo.

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GEOGRAPHY

Togo is a thin strip of land in West Africa. It is bordered in the west by Ghana, in the east by Benin and in the north by Burkina Faso. The north of the country is in West Africa's semi-arid Savannah belt, while the south is tropical. The southern coastline is on the Gulf of Guinea.

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TRADE AND INVESTMENT

Trade and Investment with the UK

UK exports to Togo in 2009 were £19m consisting mainly of used machinery and vehicles, UK imports from Togo were £1million.

Development and Development Aid

Togo is extremely poor. It is ranked 159 of 182 countries in the 2007 UNDP Human Development Index. Life expectancy at birth is under 50 years, and other social development indicators remain low. Agriculture, which supports the vast majority of the population (and makes up 43% of the GDP) has suffered in recent years due to adverse climatic conditions.

European Union (EU) aid was suspended from the early 1990s due to concerns over democracy. Finance from the IMF has been minimal, due to concerns over financial management, although the World Bank and the Africa Development Bank are engaged in some project spending. France has provided some bilateral aid. Negotiations for re-starting EU aid began again in early 2004, leading to 22 specific commitments made to the EU in April 2004. The main commitment was the holding of credible parliamentary and local elections. Following the elections of October 2007, the EU announced on 19 November that normal relations had been resumed. Aid flows, which had already picked up, can now be expected to increase further.

World Bank (http://web.worldbank.org)
European Union (EU) (http://europa.eu.int)

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POLITICS

Until the early 1990s Togo was a one party state. However in 1990, opponents to Eyadema's rule, encouraged by international events, openly contested his rule. This led to the convening of a 'National Forum' in June 1991. The opposition, who dominated the Forum, declared it a sovereign national conference. Eyadema was forced to accept a new government which emerged from this conference in August 1991. A new constitution, which was eventually passed by referendum in September 1991, officially brought to an end Eyadema's one party state, and paved the way for Presidential elections and elections to the 81-seat unicameral legislature in 1993 and 1994 respectively.

However, during the long and extremely tense transition the opposition were divided as to whether and how far to cooperate with Eyadema. The elections of 1993 were boycotted by the main opposition parties, who cited concerns about fraud. The main opposition candidate, Gilchrist Olympio, was barred from standing. Eyadema was elected with over 96% of the vote. Although the opposition fared well in the legislative elections in February 1994, Eyadema had effectively won the prolonged transitional struggle. Over the next 11 years the situation fluctuated between periods of relative openness, characterised by negotiations between the government and the opposition, and periods of tension, generally around contested electoral processes.

On 4 February 2005 Eyadema died. The military took over and installed Eyadema's son Faure Gnassingbe in power. After protests from the African Union and the regional body ECOWAS, Gnassingbe stood down. However he retained considerable power over the transition. Presidential elections took place in April, with the main opposition candidate Olympio once again barred from standing. Although the elections were marred by widespread violence, Gnassingbe was declared the winner with 60.1%, against Bob-Akitani (candidate of Olympio's UFC) who scored 38.3%. The African Union and ECOWAS accepted this result and urged Gnassingbe to include members of the opposition in the new government. Opposition leader Yawovi Agboyibo became Prime Minister in September 2006. The interparty dialogue process was re-launched in November 2005, culminating in successful talks in Burkina Faso during the summer of 2006. Legislative elections were held on 14 October 2008. The President’s party, the RTP, won 50 of the 81 seats. The opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio contested the credibility of the results, but observers, including the 94 strong EU observation team, pronounced themselves satisfied. A new government was formed in November led by the RTP politician Kolam Mally. Opposition parties are not represented in the new government.

Presidential elections were held in Togo in March 2010. President Faure Gnassingbe was re-elected. Close EU and African monitoring of the elections ensured that they were judged to have been transparent and honest enough to reflect the majority vote. Following the elections, President Faure invited members of the opposition to join his Government. Gilbert Houngbo was reappointed Prime Minister and a coalition was duly formed on 1June 2010.

BBC News: Africa (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/africa/)

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HUMAN RIGHTS

Togo's Human Rights record under Eyadema was appalling, as documented in dozens of reports from international organisations and NGOs. The security forces, especially the army, which is largely staffed with Eyadema loyalists from the north, were responsible for most of the abuses. There are current concerns over violence around the April 2005 elections, which have resulted in around 30,000 Togolese seeking refugee in neighbouring Ghana and Benin. The UN has appointed a special rapporteur to enquire into these events, with whom the new Togolese government has cooperated well. On 17 December 2007, Prime Minister Mally announced that he intended to set up a commission to look at past instances of political violence.

Amnesty International (AI) (http://www.amnesty.org)
Human Rights Report (#)

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Last Updated: January 2011

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