Background Notes: Togo

PA/PC Source: Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs Date: Feb 15, 19902/15/90 Category: Country Data Region: Subsaharan Africa Country: Togo Subject: Cultural Exchange, Resource Management, Military Affairs, History, International Organizations, Trade/Economics [TEXT] Official Name: Republic of Togo


Area: 56,600 sq. km. (21,853 sq. mi.); slightly smaller than West Virginia. Cities: Capital-Lome (pop. 1989 est. 600,000). Terrain: Savannah and hills and coastal plain. Climate: Tropical.
Nationality: Noun and adjective-Togolese (sing. and pl.). Population (1989 est.): 3.4 million. Annual growth rate (1988 est.): 3.3% Density: 61 sq. km. Ethnic groups: Ewe, Mina, Kabye, Cotocoli, Moba. Religions: Animist 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%. Languages: French (official), local (Ewe, Mina, Kabye). Education: Attendance (1987 est.)-70% of age group 5-19 enrolled. Literacy (1985 est.)-male 45%, female 20%. Health: Life expectancy (1986 est.)-male 51 yrs., female 54 yrs. Work force (125,000): Agriculture-75%-80%, Commerce-20%, Industry-less than 5%.
Type: Republic. Independence: April 27, 1960. Constitution: Adopted 1980. Branches: Executive-president (chief of state, head of sole political party). Legislative-National Assembly. Judicial- Supreme Court. Subdivisions: 21 prefectures. Political party: Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais (RPT). Suffrage: Universal adult. Central government budget (1989): $289 million. National holiday: January 13, Fete Nationale. Flag: Alternating horizontal stripes, three green and two yellow, with a white star in a red field in upper left corner.
GDP (1988 est.): $1.36 billion. Annual growth rate (1989 est.): 4%. Per capita income (1987 est.): $390. Natural resources: phosphates, limestone, marble. Agriculture (34% of 1988 GDP): Products-yams, cassava, corn, millet, sorghum, cocoa, coffee, rice. Industry (18% of 1988 GDP): Types-mining, manufacturing, construction, energy. Trade (1988): Exports-$297 million: phosphates, textiles, cocoa, coffee, cotton. Imports-$335 million: consumer goods, including foodstuffs, fabrics, clothes, vehicles, equipment. Partners-France, U.K., F.R.G. [now Germany], Netherlands, Japan, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, People's Republic of China, U.S., Poland. Official exchange rate (April 1989): Communaute Financiere Africaine (CFA) franc floats with French franc (50 CFA=1 FF). Avg. U.S.$1=320 CFA. Fiscal year: Calendar year.
Membership in International Organizations
UN, Organization of African Unity (OAU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Entente Council, West African Monetary Union.


Togo is bounded by Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, and the Gulf of Guinea. It stretches 579 kilometers (360 mi.) north from the Gulf and is only 160 kilometers (100 mi.) wide at the broadest point. The country consists primarily of two savannah plains regions separated by a southwest-northwest range of hills (the Chaine du Togo). Togo's climate varies from tropical to savannah. The south is humid, with temperatures ranging between 23 oC and 32 oC (75 oF- 90 oF). In the north, temperature fluctuations are greater-from 18 oC to more than 38 oC (65 oF-100 oF).


Togo's population of 3.4 million people (1989 estimate) is composed of about 21 ethnic groups. The two major ones are the Ewe in the south and the Kabye in the north. Population distribution is very uneven due to soil and terrain variations. The population is generally concentrated in the south and along the major north-south highway connecting the coast to the Sahel. Age distribution is also uneven; more than one-half of the Togolese are less than 15 years of age. The ethnic groups of the coastal region, particularly the Ewes (about 25% of the population), constitute the bulk of the civil servants, professionals, and merchants, due in part to the former colonial administrations which provided greater infrastructure development in the south. The Kabye (15% of the population) live on submarginal land and traditionally have emigrated south from their home area in the Kara region to seek employment. Their historical means of social advancement has been through the military and law enforcement forces, and they continue to dominate these services. Most of the southern peoples use the Ewe or Mina languages, which are closely related and spoken in commercial sectors throughout Togo. French, the official language, is used in administration and documentation. The public primary schools combine French with Ewe or Kabye as languages of instruction, depending on the region. English is spoken in neighboring Ghana and is taught in Togolese secondary schools. As a result, many Togolese, especially in the south and along the Ghana border, speak some English.


The Ewes moved into the area which is now Togo from the Niger River Valley between the 12th and 14th centuries. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese explorers and traders visited the coast. For the next 200 years, the coastal region was a major raiding center for Europeans in search of slaves, earning Togo and the surrounding region the name "the Slave Coast." In a 1884 treaty signed at Togoville, Germany declared a protectorate over a stretch of territory along the coast and gradually extended its control inland. Because it became Germany's only self-supporting colony, Togoland was known as its model possession. In 1914, Togoland was invaded by French and British forces and fell after a brief resistance. Following the war, Togoland became a League of Nations mandate divided for administrative purposes between France and the United Kingdom. After World War II, the mandate became a UN trust territory administered by the United Kingdom and France. During the mandate and trusteeship periods, western Togo was administered as part of the British Gold Coast. In 1957, the residents of British Togoland voted to join the Gold Coast as part of the new independent nation of Ghana. By statute in 1955, French Togo became an autonomous republic within the French Union, although it retained its UN trusteeship status. A legislative assembly elected by universal adult suffrage had considerable power over internal affairs, with an elected executive body headed by a prime minister responsible to the legislature. These changes were embodied in a constitution approved in an 1956 referendum. On September 10, 1956, Nicholas Grunitzky became prime minister of the Republic of Togo. However, due to irregularities in the plebiscite, a UN-supervised general election was held in 1958 and won by Sylvanus Olympio. On April 27, 1960, in a smooth transition, Togo severed its juridical ties with France, shed its UN trusteeship status, and became fully independent under a provisional constitution with Olympio as president. A new constitution in 1961 established an executive president, elected for 7 years by universal suffrage, and a weak national assembly. The president was empowered to appoint ministers and dissolve the assembly, holding a monopoly of executive power. In elections that year, from which Grunitzky's party was disqualified, Olympio's party won 90% of the vote and all 51 National Assembly seats, and he became Togo's first elected president. Four principal political parties existed in Togo: the leftist Juvento (Togolese Youth Movement); the Union Democratique des Populations Togolaises (UDPT); the Parti Togolais du Progres (PTP), founded by Grunitzky but having limited support; and the Unite Togolaise (UT), the party of President Olympio. Rivalries between elements of these parties had begun as early as the 1940s, and they came to a head with Olympio dissolving the opposition parties in January 1962 ostensibly because of plots against the majority party government. Many opposition members, including Grunitzky, fled to avoid arrest. On January 13, 1963, President Olympio was assassinated in an uprising of army noncommissioned officers dissatisfied with conditions following their discharge from the French army. Grunitzky returned from exile 2 days later to head a provisional government with the title of prime minister. On May 5, 1963, the Togolese adopted a new constitution which reinstated a multiparty system, chose deputies from all political parties for the National Assembly, and elected Grunitzky as president and Antonine Meatchi as vice president. Nine days later, President Grunitzky formed a government in which all parties were represented. During the next several years, the Grunitzky government's power became insecure. On November 21, 1966, an attempt to overthrow Grunitzky-inspired principally by civilian political opponents in the UT party-was unsuccessful. Grunitzky then tried to lessen his reliance on the army, but on January 13, 1967, Lt. Col. Etienne Eyadema (later Gen. Gnassingbe Eyadema) ousted President Grunitzky in a bloodless military coup. Political parties were banned, and all constitutional processes were suspended. The Committee of National Reconciliation ruled the country until April 14, when Eyadema assumed the presidency. In late 1969, a single national political party, the Assembly of the Togolese People (RPT), was created, and President Eyadema was elected party president on November 29, 1969. In 1972, a national referendum, in which Eyadema ran unopposed, confirmed his role as the country's president. In late 1979, Eyadema declared a Third Republic and a transition to a more civilian rule with a mixed civilian and military cabinet. He garnered 99.97% of the vote in uncontested presidential elections held in late 1979 and early 1980. A new constitution also provided for a national assembly to serve primarily as a consultative body. Eyadema was reelected to a third consecutive 7- year term in December 1986 with 99.5% of the vote in an uncontested election. On September 23, 1986, a group of some 70 armed Togolese dissidents crossed into Lome from Ghana in an attempt to overthrow the Eyadema government. With all Togolese armed forces units remaining loyal to the president, the incursion was halted after 2 days of sporadic fighting. The attempted overthrow resulted in several hundred casualties, with official figures listing 13 dissidents and 23 Togolese soldiers and civilians killed. As a result of bilateral tensions caused by the incursion, the Togo-Ghana border closed for several months.


The present Togolese Government is a highly centralized, one- party system that rules by decree. Since its creation in 1969, the ruling RPT has taken control of women's, youth, and labor groups by creating party organs to replace or supervise existing organizations. Party committees in almost every village in the country often sponsor self-help development activities or promote political education. In the official protocol of Togo, members of the political bureau of the RPT take precedence over members of the cabinet. All cabinet ministers are ex officio members of the party's central committee and are appointed by the president. The role of the National Assembly is still evolving. Presently, proposed legislation is submitted by the Council of Ministers to the assembly and becomes law after its pro forma approval. Recently the Togo Government has sought to improve its image. In October 1987, Togo established a National Human Rights Commission for the investigation of complaints of human rights abuses. It is authorized to receive complaints from Togolese and foreign residents and has access to government and police files. Its primary functions include promoting the rights of individuals- through education programs regarding human rights issues-and curtailing official abuses. Also, following longstanding complaints of corruption, President Eyadema in late 1988 began a highly visible anticorruption campaign leading to the ouster of several senior government officials. The Togolese judiciary is modeled on the French system. The highest review court is the Supreme Court, headed by a presidential appointee. For administrative purposes, Togo is divided into 21 prefectures, each having a prefect (governor) appointed by the president.
Principal Government Officials
President, Minister of National Defense-General Gnassingbe Eyadema Minister of Planning and Mines-Barry Moussa Barque Minister Delegate at the Presidency-Gbegnon Amegboh Minister of Interior and Security-General Yao Amegi Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation-Yaovi Adodo Minister of Industry and State Enterprises-Koffi Djondo Minister of Finance and Economy-Komla Alipui Ambassador to the United States-Ellom-Kodjo Schuppius Permanent Representative to the United Nations-Koffi Adjoyi Togo maintains an embassy in the United States at 2208 Massachusetts Ave., NW., Washington, D.C. 20008 (Tel. 202-234- 4212).


Subsistence agriculture and commerce are the main economic activities in Togo; the majority of the population depends on subsistence agriculture. Food and cash crop production employ the majority of the labor force and contribute about 34% to the gross domestic product (GDP). Coffee and cocoa traditionally have been the major cash crops for export, but cotton production has increased to 31,000 metric tons in 1987 from 20,000 in 1985. Despite insufficient rainfall in some areas, the Togolese Government largely has achieved its goal of self-sufficiency in food crops-corn, cassava, yams, sorghum, millet, and groundnuts. Food crop production is controlled by small- and medium-sized farms; average farm size is 1-3 hectares. Commerce is the most important economic activity in Togo after agriculture, and Lome is an important regional trading center. Its port operates 24 hours a day, mainly transporting goods to the inland countries of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. Lome's "Grand Marche" is known for its entrepreneurial market women, who have a stronghold over many areas of trade, particularly in African cloth. In addition to textiles, Togo is an important center for re-export of alcohol, cigarettes, perfume, and used clothing to neighboring countries. In the industrial sector, phosphates are Togo's most important commodity, and the country has an estimated 130 tons of phosphate reserves. The 3.2 million tons exported in 1988 accounted for 34% of exports as compared to 27% for agricultural products, with the remaining 39% representing all other exports and re-exports. Togo also has substantial limestone and marble deposits. Encouraged by the commodity boom of the mid-1970s, which resulted in a four-fold increase in phosphate prices and sharply increased government revenues, Togo embarked on an overly ambitious program of large investments in infrastructure while pursuing industrialization and development of state enterprises in manufacturing, textiles, and beverages. However, following declines in world prices for commodities, its economy became burdened with fiscal imbalances, heavy borrowing, and unprofitable state enterprises. Togo turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for assistance in 1979, while simultaneously implementing a stringent adjustment effort with the help of a series of IMF standby programs, World Bank loans, and Paris Club debt rescheduling. Under these programs, the Togolese Government introduced a series of austerity measures and major restructuring goals for the state enterprise and rural development sectors. These reforms were aimed at eliminating most state monopolies, simplifying taxes and customs duties, curtailing public employment, and privatizing major state enterprises. Having satisfied donors with its progress in fiscal discipline and reform, in 1988 Togo was granted a fifth IMF standby agreement of $9.4 million and a third World Bank Structural Adjustment Facility of $17.7 million for a 3-year period. Togo also returned to the Paris and London Clubs in 1988 and succeeded in rescheduling a total of $150 million in outstanding debt over the next 16 years. Despite many economic successes, the external debt service obligations of the government were 30.5% of GDP in 1989. External budgetary and development assistance will be required in the short- to medium-term to finance expected budget shortfalls and required public investment. To overcome the restrictions of a limited market and sparse resources, Togo supported wholeheartedly the formation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The ECOWAS Development Fund is located in Lome. The trade and service sectors account for most foreign investment, and there is an infusion of funds from neighboring countries into Togolese banks. Togo actively seeks more capital investment, particularly in the continued privatization of former state enterprises. Historically, France has been Togo's principal trading partner, although other European Community countries are important to Togo's economy and Japan is presently trying to penetrate the West African market. Total U.S. trade with Togo amounts to about $45 million annually. President Eyadema's government has improved the country's highways, port, airport, utilities, and telecommunications network. New high rises and hotels are being built each year in Lome. Peace Corps volunteers, in cooperation with the government, have constructed many rural schools, wells, and clinics and have assisted agricultural and road improvement projects. Togo's principal sources of development assistance have been France, the European Development Fund, the Federal Republic of Germany, the United States, Japan, and the World Bank. The volume of foreign assistance available to Togo in 1988 was an estimated $163 million ($104 million bilateral and $59 million multilateral).


Although Togo's foreign policy is nonaligned, it has strong historical and cultural ties with Western Europe, especially France and West Germany. Togo recognizes the People's Republic of China and North Korea. It reestablished relations with Israel in 1987. Togo pursues an active foreign policy and participates in many international organizations. It is particularly active in West African regional affairs and in the Organization of African Unity. In 1980, President Eyadema served as president of the Economic Community of West African States. Relations between Togo and neighboring states, with one exception, are generally very good. Ties to Ghana have been strained due to border disagreements and the 1986 armed incursion by Togolese dissidents residing in Ghana.


The small, professionally competent Togolese military is one of the most important institutions in the country. It serves as the ultimate power base for the president (who also acts as minister of defense and chief of staff of the armed forces). The Togolese Armed Forces total about 10,000, with most personnel in the land forces, including armored, paratroop, and rapid intervention divisions, as well as the Presidential Guard. Togo also has a small navy with two coastal patrol craft, and a small air force with fighter and transport aircraft. Historically, the Togolese Armed Forces have obtained equipment from Eastern and Western sources and recently have sought to standardize on major items, e.g., tanks from England and vehicles from France and West Germany. A number of French military officers serve in advisory and technical capacities. Many Togolese officers are trained in France; some also are trained in other foreign countries in schools attended by a mix of African nationals. The U.S. Government brings about six Togolese officers to the United States each year under the International Military Education and Training program.


Togo is a pro-Western, market-oriented country and the United States and Togo have had very good relations since its independence. Although the United States has never been one of Togo's major trade partners, the fall in the dollar/CFA exchange rate in recent years has helped make U.S. goods a little more competitive. The largest U.S. exports to Togo generally have been used clothing and scrap textiles. Other important U.S. exports include rice, wheat, shoes, tobacco products, and frozen poultry parts, and U.S. personal computers and other office electronics are becoming more widely used. U.S. imports from Togo rose dramatically in 1986, climbing to $27.1 million from only $12.3 million in 1985. The main reason for this increase was U.S. purchases of Togolese phosphates in 1986 valued at $23.6 million. The Government of Togo, with the support of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and Agency for International Development (AID), is investigating the possibility of establishing an export processing zone (EPZ) near the port of Lome. The zone would attract private investors interested in manufacturing, assembly, and food processing, primarily for the export market. U.S. economic aid to Togo includes about 100 Peace Corps volunteers, a $4-million PL 480 (Food for Peace) program, and a development assistance program totaling $4 million for 1989. In addition to Togolese officers' participation in U.S. military training, there is an active cultural exchange program, and several private American institutions assist Togo's university.


Climate and clothing: Bring warm weather clothing. A light wrap is useful in July and August. Customs: U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter the country for stays of under 3 months. If remaining in Togo for more than 10 days, an exit visa is required. Innoculation against yellow fever is required unless the traveler is arriving from a noninfected area and is staying in Togo less than 2 weeks. Malaria is a risk. As health requirements change, please check latest information. Currency: The CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine-African Financial Community) franc is legal tender, and no ceiling is imposed on the number of CFA francs which may be brought into the country. The CFA franc is freely convertible into French francs. However, for conversion into U.S. dollars, obtain permission from the government agency handling foreign exchange. Dollars and travelers checks can be exchanged in Lome. Health: Avoid tap water and unwashed fruits and vegetables. Local medical services are limited. Telecommunications: Telecommunications improved dramatically when a new satellite ground station came into service in 1981. It is possible to directly dial many countries (including the United States) from Togo, and telecommunications services continue to be upgraded. Transportation: Air travel is the best way to get to Lome, which has daily international flights to and from Europe and major West African cities. Uncertain road conditions or frontier difficulties can complicate automobile travel to Benin other than via the direct road from Lome to Cotonou. Accra is an easy 3-hour drive from Lome, but the border has been closed occasionally. Lagos is about 5 hours by road, depending on border crossing formalities. Taxis are available in Lome and other urban areas. Published by the United States Department of State -- Bureau of Public Affairs -- Office of Public Communication -- Washington, D.C. February 1990 -- Editor: Marilyn J. Bremner. Department of State Publication 8325 - Background Notes Series -- This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission; citation of this source is appreciated. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. (###)