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Essential Things to Know Before Your Next Business Trip to Togo

TOGO

Until 1884 what is now Togo was an intermediate zone between the states of Asante and Dahomey, and its various ethnic groups lived in general isolation from each other. In 1884 it became part of theTogoland German protectorate, which was occupied by British and French forces in 1914. In 1922 theLeague of Nations assigned eastern Togoland to France and the western portion to Britain. In 1946 the British and French governments placed the territories under United Nations trusteeship (seeTrusteeship Council). Ten years later British Togoland was incorporated into the Gold Coast, and French Togoland became an autonomous republic within the French Union. Togo gained independence in 1960. The economy rests largely on agriculture, although the country’s extensivephosphate reserves are also significant.

Togo, is a country located at Western Africa, it has an area of 56,790 Km2, and it may be considered quite a small country. Togo, with a population of 7,889,094 people, it is one of the least populous country in the world 139 people per km2. Lome is the capital city of Togo while West African CFA francs is her currency. Togo is holding the 157 position by nominal GDP. Its national debt in 2017 was 3,210 millions of euros3,627 millions of dollars, ( 75.6% debt-to-GDP ratio) and its public debt per capita is 417€ euros per inhabitant471$ dollars per inhabitant. In terms of the human development index (HDI) of Togo, which is the index used by the United Nations to measure the progress of a country, was 0.503 points in 2017, leaving it in 166th place in the table of 189 countries published. If the reason to visit Togo are business, you must know it’s in the 137th of the Doing Business ranking, which provides objective measures of business regulations for local firms.

Government

Current president of TogoFaure Gnassingbé since 2005

Gnassingbé Eyadéma ruled Togo from 1967 until his death in 2005The President is elected by universal and direct suffrage for 5 years. He is also the commander of the armed forces and has the right to initiate legislation and dissolve parliament. Executive power is exercised by the president and the government. The head of government is the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the president. Togo’s transition to democracy is stalled. Its democratic institutions remain nascent and fragile. President Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who ruled Togo under a one-party system, died of a heart attack on 5 February 2005. Gravely ill, he was being transported by plane to a foreign country for care. He died in transit while over Tunisia. Under the Togolese Constitution, the President of the Parliament, Fambaré Ouattara Natchaba, should have become President of the country, pending a new presidential election to be called within sixty days. Natchaba was out of the country, returning on an Air France plane from Paris.

The Togolese army, known as Forces Armées Togolaises (FAT), or Togolese Armed Forces, closed the nation’s borders, forcing the plane to land in nearby Benin. With an engineered power vacuum, the Parliament voted to remove the constitutional clause that would have required an election within sixty days, and declared that Eyadema’s son, Faure Gnassingbé, would inherit the presidency and hold office for the rest of his father’s term. Faure was sworn in on 7 February 2005, despite international criticism of the succession.

The African Union described the takeover as a military coup d’étatInternational pressure came also from the United Nations. Within Togo, opposition to the takeover culminated in riots in which several hundred died. There were uprisings in many cities and towns, mainly located in the southern part of the country. In the town of Aného reports of a general civilian uprising followed by a large scale massacre by government troops went largely unreported. In response, Faure Gnassingbé agreed to hold elections and on 25 February, Gnassingbé resigned as president, but soon afterward accepted the nomination to run for the office in April.

On 24 April 2005, Gnassingbé was elected President of Togo, receiving over 60% of the vote according to official results. His main rival in the race had been Emmanuel Bob-Akitani from the Union des Forces du Changement (UFC) or Union of Forces for Change. However, electoral fraud was suspected, due to a lack of European Union or other independent oversight. Parliament designated Deputy President, Bonfoh Abbass, as interim president until the inauguration. On 3 May 2005, Faure Gnassingbé was sworn in as the new president and the European Union suspended aid to Togo in support of the opposition claims, unlike the African Union and the United States which declared the vote “reasonably fair.” The Nigerian president and Chair of the AU, Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ, sought to negotiate between the incumbent government and the opposition to establish a coalition government, but rejected an AU Commission appointment of former Zambianpresident, Kenneth Kaunda, as special AU envoy to Togo. In June, President Gnassingbé named opposition leader Edem Kodjo as the prime minister.

In October 2007, after several postponements, elections were held under proportional representation. This allowed the less populated north to seat as many MPs as the more populated south. The president-backed party Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) won outright majority with the UFC coming second and the other parties claiming inconsequential representation. Again vote rigging accusations were leveled at the RPT supported by the civil and military security apparatus. Despite the presence of an EU observer mission, canceled ballots and illegal voting took place, the majority of which in RPT strongholds. The election was declared fair by the international community and praised as a model with little intimidation and few violent acts for the first time since a multiparty system was reinstated. On 3 December 2007 Komlan Mally of the RPT was appointed to prime minister succeeding Agboyibor. However, on 5 September 2008, after only 10 months in office, Mally resigned as prime minister of Togo.

Faure Gnassingbé won re-election in the March 2010 presidential election, taking 61% of the vote against Jean-Pierre Fabre from the UFC, who had been backed by an opposition coalition called FRAC (Republican Front for Change). Though the March 2010 election was largely peaceful, electoral observers noted “procedural errors” and technical problems, and the opposition did not recognize the results, claiming irregularities had affected the outcome. Periodicprotests against Faure Gnassingbé followed the election. In May 2010, long-time opposition leader Gilchrist Olympioannounced that he would enter into a power-sharing deal with the government, a coalition arrangement which provides the UFC with eight ministerial posts. In June 2012, electoral reforms prompted protesters to take to the street in Lomé for several days; protesters sought a return to the 1992 constitution that would re-establish presidential term limits. July 2012, saw the surprise resignation of the prime minister, Gilbert Houngbo. Days later, the commerce minister, Kwesi Ahoomey-Zunu, was named to lead the new government. In the same month, the home of opposition leader Jean Pierre Fabre was raided by security forces, and thousands of protesters again rallied publicly against the government crackdown.

Relief, drainage, and soils

Togo consists of six geographic regions. The low-lying, sandy beaches of the narrow coastal region are backed by tidal flats and shallow lagoons, the largest of which is Lake Togo. Beyond the coast lies the Ouatchi Plateau, which stretches about 20 miles (32 km) inland at an elevation of some 200 to 300 feet (60 to 90 metres). This is the region of the so-called terre de barre, a lateritic (reddish, leached, iron-bearing) soil.

TogoBeach outside Lomé, Togo.© Robert_Ford/iStock.com
Northeast of the plateau is a tableland, the highest elevations reaching 1,300 to 1,500 feet (400 to 460 metres). This region is drained by the Mono River and its tributaries, including the Ogou, and other smaller rivers. West and southwest of the tableland the terrain gradually rises toward the Togo Mountains, also known as the Togo-Atakora Mountains, which run across central Togo from the south-southwest to the north-northeast. Part of a chain that begins in the Akwapim Hills of Ghana (see Akwapim-Togo ranges), the range ends in Benin, where it is known as the Atakora Mountains.Mount Agou (Baumann Peak), which rises to about 3,235 feet (986 metres), is the highest mountain in Togo. Beyond the Togo Mountains to the north lies the Oti River sandstone plateau. This is a savannaregion drained by the Oti River, one of the main tributaries of the Volta. To the far northwest is a higher region of granite and gneiss; the cliffs of Dapaong (Dapango) are located in this region. 

Climate

Togo has a tropical climate. In the south the rainy seasons occur from mid-April through June and from mid-September through October. The narrow coastal zone, which receives about 35 inches (890 mm) of precipitation annually, is the driest region. The area near Palimé, about 65 miles (100 km) inland, receives the highest amount of precipitation—about 70 inches (1,800 mm) annually. The north has only one rainy season, when precipitation averages about 45 inches (1,150 mm), mostly falling from June to the end of September; during the rest of the year the warm, dry harmattan (a dust-laden wind) predominates. Mean annual temperatures vary from the high 70s F (mid-20s C) along the coast and in the mountains to the low 80s F (high 20s C) on the northern plateau. Daily minimum temperatures reaching the high 60s F (low 20s C) are recorded in the mountains in August. Daily maxima in the low 100s F (high 30s C) occur in the north during March and April at the end of the long dry season.

 

Plant and animal life

Savanna-type vegetation is predominant in Togo. On the southern plateaus large trees, including thebaobab, are common, but they are rare in the north. The southwestern highland regions are covered with tropical forests, also found along the river valleys. The coastal zone is dotted with mangrove and reed swamps.

Wild animals are not found in great numbers, especially in the southern and central regions. A few lions, leopards, and elephants can be seen in the north. Monkeys, snakes, and lizards are numerous in many areas, and crocodiles and hippopotamuses abound in the rivers. In the Keran Forest Reserve near Sansanné-Mango in the north, there are wild herds of buffalo, asses, warthogs, antelope, and deer. Numerous species of birds and insects are found in the country. Fish caught off the coast include mackerel, bass, seabream, red snapper, triggerfish, dorado, ray, and sole, while crustaceans include shrimp and lobster.

 

People and Culture

Togo’s culture reflects the influences of its many ethnic groups, the largest and most influential of which are the EweMina, Tem, Tchamba and Kabre.

Despite the influences of Christianity and Islam, over half of the people of Togo follow native animistic practices and beliefs.

Ewe statuary is characterized by its famous statuettes which illustrate the worship of the ibeji. Sculptures and hunting trophies were used rather than the more ubiquitous African masks. The wood-carvers of Kloto are famous for their “chains of marriage”: two characters are connected by rings drawn from only one piece of wood.

The dyed fabric batiks of the artisanal center of Kloto represent stylized and colored scenes of ancient everyday life. The loincloths used in the ceremonies of the weavers of Assahoun are famous. Works of the painter Sokey Edorh are inspired by the immense arid extents, swept by the dry wind, and where the soil keeps the prints of the men and the animals. The plastics technician Paul Ahyi is internationally recognized today. He practiced the “zota“, a kind of pyroengraving, and his monumental achievements decorate Lomé.

The official Togolese drink is called sodabi, a liquor that is created from the distillation of palm wine.

Most of the country’s non-Africans the majority of whom are French live in Lomé. Brazilians, or Portuguese of Brazilian birth, constituted the original trading settlement in Togo, and today African-Brazilians are closely associated with economic and political development.

The official language is French, although it is not widely spoken outside of business and government. Widely spoken indigenous languages belong to the Niger-Congo language family and include Ewe in the south and Kabiye in the north.

 

Religion

Almost half of the population is Christian, many of whom are Roman Catholic, although there are also substantial Protestant, independent, and other Christian communities. Since independence, theRoman Catholic Church in Togo has been headed by a Togolese archbishop. The main Protestant (Calvinist) church has been governed for a long time by Togolese moderators.

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