Situation and cooperation

A fisherman in the Lomé harbour

After almost 40 years of dictatorial rule, Togo is now in a phase of democratisation and liberalisation. The country faces huge challenges in terms of development: it is ranked a mere 165th out of 189 nations on the latest United Nations Human Development Index (HDI). More than half of the population lives in extreme poverty. The north of the country and rural regions are particularly affected by poverty. About one third of the people in Togo have no access to safe drinking water, and almost 90 per cent lack adequate sanitation. 15 per cent of the population are malnourished, and 40 per cent of adults are illiterate.

Togo has failed to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals. Significant progress was achieved only on primary education (MDG 2) and on action against HIV/AIDS (MDG 6).

Togo's population has more than doubled over the past three decades. Stable economic growth notwithstanding, the rapidly growing young generation has poor prospects of finding paid work. Unemployment and underemployment are a huge potential source of social conflict.


Tribal princes in Lomé, Togo

In political terms, the situation in Togo has stabilised in recent years. The government is willing to pursue reforms and to engage in dialogue. The most recent elections were broadly in line with international standards. However, the envisaged reform of the election system keeps getting bogged down. In 2014, a bill proposed by the government was rejected by the government's own party in parliament. Legislation to decentralise the country is on the books, but has not been taken any further. There have been no local elections in Togo since 1987.

According to its constitution, Togo is a multi-party democracy with separation of powers. Ultimate power, however, lies with the president – and parliamentary and judicial controls are as yet inadequate. The administration of justice is strongly influenced by politics. Corruption and nepotism are widespread. In the Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International, Togo ranks 107th out of the 168 countries evaluated.

The poor in particular have very limited access to the justice system. Instead, many conflicts are resolved by traditional authorities based on customary law.

Human rights

The human rights situation has improved significantly since the end of the dictatorship in 2005. Nonetheless human rights organisations continue to report cases of alleged torture and harsh prison conditions. They also criticise the excessive use of force by security forces at demonstrations. In addition, there are repeated reports of child labour and child trafficking.

Officially, women enjoy equal rights, and they are very active in public life, especially trade. But they have very little representation in political bodies. Great progress has been made in the fight against female genital mutilation: in November 2012, Togo announced the official abolition of this cruel tradition.

Due to a very long period of suppression under Gnassingbé Eyadéma, the first civil society organisations were not formed until the early 1990s. Today Togo has numerous initiatives, associations and non-governmental organisations supporting a large number of different issues.


Lomé harbour, Togo

Despite the reform process introduced in 2006 and stable economic growth rates of about five per cent over the last few years, the economic and social situation in Togo is still in crisis. The country is poor in raw materials, and about 70 per cent of the population is engaged in agriculture.

Togo's sole significant extractive resource is phosphate, of which it has the world's fourth largest reserves. There is great international demand for phosphate. While Togo's main focus so far has been on exporting the raw material, the government is seeking to increase the amount of phosphate processed within the country.

Other important exports are cement and bricks, cotton, coffee and cocoa. The harbour of Lomé, built with German support in the 1960s, is an economic success story. The only deepwater port on the West African coast, it is currently being expanded and upgraded at considerable cost. It serves as a transshipment point for the movement of goods to the Sahel countries and North Africa.

The government is trying to improve the business environment. However, at the moment potential investors are still being put off by inadequate infrastructure, legal uncertainty, and corruption. The World Bank's 2016 Doing Business Report, which assesses the business climate of 189 countries, ranks Togo number 150. The Report expressly praises the progress made on the following aspects: starting a business, getting electricity, trading across borders.

Priority areas of German cooperation with Togo

Federal Minister for Development Gerd Müller and the Togolese Minister for Transport Payadowa Boukpessi at the opening of a bypass in Lomé which was co-financed by Germany
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Federal Minister for Development Gerd Müller and the Togolese Minister for Transport Payadowa Boukpessi at the opening of a bypass in Lomé which was co-financed by Germany

After a break of almost 20 years, Germany resumed its bilateral development cooperation with Togo in 2012. The following priority areas were agreed:

  • Good governance/decentralisation
  • Rural development/agriculture
  • Vocational training/youth employment

At the government negotiations in June 2016, Germany made a pledge to its cooperation partner for 54 million euros in funding over two years.

Germany is also active in the energy sector (West African Power Pool, including efforts to rehabilitate the Nangbeto hydropower station), in infrastructure (Lomé bypass), and in the areas of protecting the environment and biodiversity and mitigating climate change. Togo also receives funding from the BMZ's special initiative ONE WORLD – No Hunger.

During his visit to Togo in January 2016, German Development Minister Gerd Müller announced that Germany would further deepen its development cooperation with the country and expand its cooperation with the entire region. He also emphasised that cooperation in the areas of health and energy should be stepped up.

Good governance and decentralisation

Students at Yelivo village's only primary school, Togo.

In the early 1990s, the Government of Togo launched a process of decentralisation. However, that process has become bogged down. No local elections have been held since 1987. The provision of public services at the local level is inadequate; infrastructure is in poor condition. Local authorities lack trained staff and sufficient funding. Moreover, after decades of dictatorship the people have virtually no experience of a democratic system and know very little about their civil rights.

The aim of Germany's programmes in Togo is to improve the provision of basic economic infrastructure and public services and to improve popular participation in politics at the local level.

Within the scope of Technical Cooperation, support is being provided, as a first step, to the local administrations of three medium-sized cities to help them increase their revenues, improve citizen focus and, in particular, pay greater attention to the concerns of women and young people.

To tie in with this, KfW Development Bank has been financing the development of local infrastructure. People can use their mobile phones to take part in the planning and monitoring of programme activities.

Successful decentralisation, however, requires local elections. In the last few years, the government has repeatedly postponed scheduled elections.

Rural development

Women selling meat on the market of Sokodé, Togo.

Agriculture is vital to Togo’s economic development, food security and labour market. However, at the moment the agricultural sector is still very traditional – there is little technology involved and the focus is on subsistence farming. Because of this, young people in particular see little prospect of finding a job in rural areas and tend to move to the cities.

Another problem is the overexploitation of natural resources. Most of the rising energy demand from the population is being met by biomass – particularly in the form of firewood that comes from cutting down forests.

The aim of German programmes in Togo therefore is to improve specific agricultural value chains. To start with, the pertinent development programme is focusing on coffee, cocoa, cashew nuts and pineapple, and on generating energy from wood. To that end, the staff of public service providers and non-governmental organisations have received training so that they can act as field advisors. They then offer one- to two-week courses at farmer business schools in order to pass on their knowledge to smallholders and to the staff of processing facilities.

Practical field experience is channelled directly into the advisory services provided for political decision-makers to support them in improving the general environment for agricultural production.

Following on from the training sessions, some 20 cooperatives and associations have been formed with a total of more than 5,000 members. They then implement specific technical and business improvements. A total of more than 70 hectares of land has already been reforested to furnish wood for energy generation, and new cooperatives have been formed, for example for the production of fuel-saving stoves.

Financial cooperation funds are being used for the rehabilitation and improvement of rural roads. The focus is on regions where export crops (cotton and coffee) are being grown.

There are also plans to set up a Green Innovation Centre in Togo as part of the BMZ's special initiative ONE WORLD – No Hunger. The Centre will support the efforts of small farms to increase their production and income on a lasting basis.

For several years now, Togo has been self-sufficient in its main staples. But the nutrition situation of women and young children in particular is still inadequate, as there is a shortage of good quality food. That is why Germany is operating another programme under its special initiative that will improve the food and nutrition security of 6,000 people in the Maritime Region, with a special focus on women of reproductive age and young children.

Vocational training

Vocational students enrolled in a motor vehicle mechanics course at a vocational school in Sokodé, Togo, are repairing a motorcycle.

It is very difficult for young people in Togo to find training opportunities or jobs. The vocational training system has serious shortcomings. There is a lack of money, equipment, teachers with practical training and adequate opportunities for girls and young women.

German programmes in Togo are geared towards improving young people's training, employment and income opportunities in specific growth regions. One major emphasis is on reintroducing "dual" (school- and industry-based) vocational training.

This includes efforts to improve coordination between the various youth employment programmes. To that end, a database has been set up to provide information on the regional availability of employment programmes and training and funding opportunities. Germany has also supported Togo's job placement agency in setting up a website with careers information and guidance.

Cooperation programmes in the field of vocational education are geared, among other things, towards improving the quality of training for skilled trades. This involves working together with trade organisations and chambers of crafts and trades to develop training plans and establish partnerships with training centres.

In parallel, Germany is assisting Togo in rehabilitating, expanding and equipping vocational schools. The aim is to enable the schools to enrol more pupils and buy modern tools and machinery. Germany is also providing funding for teacher training.

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