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Togo 6. Dezember 2019
BTI 2006
Ranking 2006
Ländergutachten 2006

Status Index
(Democracy: 3.72/ Market economy: 3.93)
3.82 Management Index 2.28
HDI 0.512 Population 5.8 mn
GDP p. c. ($, PPP) 1,696 Population growth 3.1% 1)
Unemployment rate n/a Women in Parliament 6.2%
UN Education Index 0.57 Poverty 32.3% 2)
    Gini-Index n/a
Source: UNDP: Human Development Report 2005. Figures for 2003 - if not indicated otherwise. 1) Annual growth between 1975 and 2003. 2) Population living below $ 1 (1990-2003).

A. Executive summary

After 38 years in power as Africa’s longest ruling head of state, Togo’s long-standing President Gnassingbé Eyadéma died on February 5, 2005 at the age of 69. The manner in which his succession was handled by the national army, government and parliament underscores the problematic system of political leadership in Togo and quality of governance. Faure Gnassingbé (Eyadéma), the son of the late president, was proclaimed president by the military in defiance of the constitution. Hastily removing the president of the assembly, who would have been the legitimate interim successor, parliament later confirmed this coup d’état by approving a series of constitutional amendments to legitimize this decision.

International criticism, particularly the harsh comments of African leaders and the immediate diplomatic efforts of neighboring heads of state, i.e. ECOWAS members, forced the regime’s establishment to call presidential elections on April 24, 2005. Despite widespread irregularities denounced by the opposition and the United States, Faure Gnassingbé was declared winner with 60% of the vote and sworn in as head of state on May 4, 2005.

Despite an encouraging initial transition period in the early 1990s, developments since are best described as failed democratization. In 1991, opposition protests forced President Eyadéma to create the appearance of democratic legitimacy. Free elections were held, and an opposition majority emerged in parliament. However, the president maintained powerful control over the country via a divide-et-impera strategy toward the opposition and by using his loyal army to intimidate any organization, including political parties, the press or non-governmental organizations, in opposition to his positions. Eyadéma effectively destroyed hopes of a fresh democratic beginning and facilitated political apathy among Togolese citizens.

In economic terms, Togo was once in a much better position than many of its neighbors. Togo had a liberal framework for foreign investment; experienced national actors, many of them women, used commercial activities. However, EU trade sanctions applied in protest of the regime’s dictatorial tendencies, the considerable exodus of an educated work force and capital flight led to stagnating economic figures and a decline in living conditions. In the last 6 years, Togo has lacked political vision and sound economic policies. Both the regime and society have pursued mere survival strategies.

Up until 2004, this state of affairs did not influence the president’s dictatorial rule. President Eyadéma maintained his hold on power by rigging elections, restricting press and assembly freedoms and intimidating the opposition. He even enjoyed a certain degree of international respect due to his temporary AU chairmanship and his role as mediator in the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. In an effort to counter France’s deteriorating influence in the region, France has renewed its alliance with Eyadéma. Physically ill and weakened by the structural economic decline of his country, Eyadéma resumed talks with the EU at the end of 2004. These negotiations raised hopes of a fresh start for transition. The EU promised to withdraw sanctions on the condition that the government organizes free and fair legislative elections for April 2005.

Eyadéma died and his son brought to power just as the country was in the midst of negotiating and determining the framework for elections. Again, persistent external pressure forced Faure Gnassingbé to step down and organize elections for April 2005. However, the questionable conditions of the elections underscore Togo’s failure to advance democratic transformation.

B. History and characteristics of transformation

Able to exploit several domestic and international factors, the late President Eyadéma ruled the Republic of Togo nearly unchallenged for 38 years.

Up until 1991, Eyadéma enjoyed unconditional Western support as an ally in the Cold War. Primarily France, but also the United States and several other European countries including the Federal Republic of Germany viewed Togo as a model for development in West Africa. The country attracted foreign investment in different industries and became a popular location for tourism and conferences. None of Togo’s international partners criticized the dictatorial quality of the government, despite the fact that the president lacked democratic legitimacy from the start. It is widely believed that Eyadéma himself killed Togo’s first president, Sylvanus Olympio, in a military coup in 1963. Eyadéma was certainly the driving force behind these events preparing for his own succession to power in 1967.

After independence in 1960, no multiparty or free and fair elections were held in the one-party state of Togo until 1991. During this period, the West never seriously questioned Eyadéma’s abuse of the army to oppress domestic opponents or his favoritism toward his own ethnic group, the Kabye. Togo’s partners also overlooked the discrepancy between liberal investment opportunities in the country and the lack of a sound economic framework that would have provided long-term economic growth and improvements to the population’s general welfare. Instead, international partners responded to rural Togo’s entrenched poverty with generous development assistance. Some of this assistance was used to build up the army, finance the power elite’s luxurious lifestyle and maintain the well-established loyalty and intelligence system.

This system consisted primarily of two factors. First, there was a well-equipped and trained army, whose leaders were handpicked by the president from a physically strong group of men belonging to the president’s ethnic group. Secondly, the president was able to establish a system of indirect rule throughout the country by installing favored leaders in the traditional system as well as in communal, canton and province administrations. These leaders enjoyed several benefits in exchange for ensuring a citizenry loyal to the president’s leadership. Critical or resistant elements were eliminated by the use of force. The government exercised control over the press and communication systems.

Enjoying upper level positions in both public and private enterprises, the politically disadvantaged southerners accepted Eyadéma’s rule. Moreover, Togo’s modest welfare, unknown to those in neighboring countries, made life somewhat enjoyable.

As in other African countries, the end of the Cold War and the global wave of democratization brought about international criticism of Togo. A democratic movement emerged in Togo in response to events in neighboring Benin. A national conference led to constitutional change and the establishment of a multiparty system. The opposition won the first and, so far, only democratic legislative elections in the country. After careful consideration of events in other African countries, the president remained in power and forged an interim period of “cohabitation” with the opposition. He used this period to split the opposition, reinforce his control over the country’s territory and oppress any criticism. By the mid-1990s, frustration in civil society was high and political parties lost both their popular and financial support. One of Africa’s most sophisticated dictatorial systems of governance had successfully re-established itself. Furthermore, the overall presence of government intelligence created an atmosphere of general distrust throughout the country, even in remote rural areas. Eventually, Togo’s population was also forced to confront economic decline and the consequences of international sanctions resulting from Togo’s eroding reputation. These events were also shaped in part by the growing importance within the international community of political and economic stabilization in neighboring Ghana and Benin.

However, Eyadéma’s means of oppression refrained from being open and brutal enough to provoke vociferous international criticism. Cunning and efficient in his punctuated interventions, Eyadéma succeeded in maintaining the image of constitutional democratic legitimacy within the international community. France helped contribute to this image by pursuing its own economic and strategic interests rather than demonstrate a clear position in favor of democracy and human rights by pushing for forceful European intervention at decisive moments.

It was not until the end of 2004 that other European countries’ influence grew. Pushing for renewed democratization, European countries negotiated a lift of sanctions in exchange of serious government effort to establish democracy. However, these efforts have been rendered obsolete by Eyadéma’s death. It remains unclear whether and to what extent Togo’s leaders or the international community will attempt to improve the political system.

Initial signs that change might be imposed by other African countries, in particular Nigeria with its leading position in ECOWAS, diminished somewhat in the weeks before the April 2005 elections.

C. Assessment

1. Democracy

Togo’s political system can be best described as a fictitious democracy. All democratic institutions are in place and position holders have been elected or appointed according to the stipulations of the constitution. In reality, however, the country has been ruled for 38 years by an uncompromising dictator, who controlled all wings of government and every political movement over the entire territory. He had the unconditional support of the country’s army. The existence of a democratic constitution and respective procedures served to calm down international criticism and to play with an inadequate opposition, which is weak and suffers from its own internal divisions. In addition, the amazing capacity of Togolese citizens to remain peaceful despite political frustrations and economic decline turned out to be an asset for the government’s dictatorial behavior.

1.1. Stateness

The state’s monopoly on the use of force and the influence of the president is practically guaranteed throughout the territory. Critical groups within the army that emerged during the period of democratization in the 1990s have been systematically eradicated through intimidation, torture and sudden disappearances of individuals, so that government can again count on the army’s strong support.

The president himself always closely followed the nomination of senior government and administrative posts. During the period of review, there was no influential figure even in the decentralized administrative bodies at provincial or regional levels. This has not been carefully scrutinized by the powers in place. This applies even to traditional chiefs, who were appointed by the president of the republic. They have to show absolute loyalty to him rather than to their subjects.

In order to control the police as a potentially threatening force, military personnel were regularly introduced into its system. Even the university campus in Lomé has been under the government’s constant observation. No opposition movement could ever develop without its leaders being immediately identified as dangerous for the regime and are often intimidated.

Debates about citizenship do not exist. Because the integrity of the territory is strongly protected by the army, people’s origin and their status are well known. Although there is no strong campaign for creating a national identity as in many other dictatorial states, a common feeling of national authenticity is, at the time of this writing, emerging among the youth.

Both sides respect the separation between the state and Christian churches. The church does not interfere in support of Togo’s government. But since Archbishop Philippe Kpodzro of Lomé’s presidency over the national conference in 1991-1992, which he was elected for because of the confidence and respect that the church still demands in Togo, church leaders have time and again criticized governmental actions with pastoral letters. It is important to observe, against this background, that the government is obviously trying to allow Islam a greater influence and give it more importance than this northern religion would merit according to its proportional importance in the population. This includes preferential tax arrangements, which churches do not benefit from.

Administrative structures are present all over the country, but their functioning is limited to exercise control and to give citizens a minimum set of services, but not to induce development, to render public life more dynamic or to attract investments.

1.2. Political participation

Democratic elections, which gave a clear picture of people’s will, were held only once in 1991, when the opposition gained a majority in parliament. Elections have been held regularly since then, but they are constantly rigged. In addition, President Eyadéma won the 1998 presidential elections with a public promise not to stand once again. He broke that promise and became candidate again in 2003. These elections were neither free nor fair nor transparent.

Opposition leaders, because of their experiences in the presidential race, boycotted the last legislative elections. Some so-called opposition parties came into existence with government support in order to create the picture of a functioning democracy. These so-called opposition parties gained seats in parliament through massive manipulation.

In January 2005, a new electoral law was passed by parliament. It does not contain the necessary elements for free and fair elections and was therefore rejected by the opposition. Opposition leaders argue that a de facto 11 to two majority of the presidential majority in the electoral commission would have opened doors for all sorts of manipulation. This composition also does not comply with the 22 points agreement reached between government, opposition and EU, which foresees a sound electoral framework all stakeholders accept.

Veto powers, which could really hinder government to implement its agenda, do not exist. Given its strict loyalty to Eyadéma the military never acted as a veto power. In fact the army formed the backbone of Eyadéma’s repressive rule.

Freedom of assembly exists as long as there is no real debate on political issues. Every greater assembly throughout the country has to be authorized by the responsible administrative units of government, which carefully scrutinize the purpose and the attendance of such meetings. No meeting can really take place, therefore, without the fear of being observed and eventually disturbed by state intelligence.

Togo ranks 170th of 193 countries (“not free,” value 78) in the 2004 Global Press Freedom Survey by Freedom House. There is formal freedom of the press and a variety of radio stations can be listened to in the capital Lomé. The press is, however, not easily accessible. For instance, it is difficult to receive some of these stations in the rural areas of the country. In addition, the print media are mainly in governmental hands. There is certainly some freedom in Lomé for opposition papers. But they are not available outside the capital and have a low distribution even in Lomé. With two exceptions even the opposition papers belong to government-related owners. In rural areas no critical or even neutral information can be found. Sellers of critical print media are in danger of prosecution. Moreover, there is no real capacity for people to understand and analyze news, as there has never been a situation of free information and debate. Critical comments of journalists (with regard to the installation of the new president) have not been well received by army leaders. Their reactions show that willingness to grant more freedom of the press is far from emerging among the dictatorial rulers.

1.3. Rule of law

During the period of review, separation of power existed de jure, but de facto both the legislative and the judicial wings of government depended on and were manipulated by the executive. From provincial to constitutional courts the presidential influence was strong and direct. No judgment, which was critical with regard to the government, could pass. Even on the level of traditional judges, the president was able to make all rulings dependent on his own directives. Parliament just applauded and hailed the president. There were no real debates in the assembly. Instead, there was general approval to presidential bills.

The top judiciary was completely in Eyadéma’s hands. Independent lawyers and law companies were unable to gain a sound position in the system because they were systematically made to lose cases. Judges only out of fear decided in line with the government’s prescriptions.

The abuse of office for personal or political advantage was the rule throughout the system. This way of handling power has always been exercised by the president himself. His way of doing things, therefore, legitimized the application of the same low standards throughout the system.

At the time of this writing, civil liberties exist only formally. Once people become too critical of government, they are in trouble. The arrest of students in April 2004 and a similar case in January 2005, both for having made critical statements about government, show how precarious it can become to pronounce one’s own opinion. Opposition members have often been threatened and arrested. In the army, whose majority voted for the opposition in the country’s first free elections, a consequent process of purification has taken place. Nevertheless, a widespread systematic prosecution of oppositional tendencies could not be observed. The government has always avoided such steps in order to escape from international criticism. But well-planned and executed attacks on certain individuals constantly created a general climate of fear and distrust that did not favor any organization’s willingness to really exercise the freedom of assembly. Even in the transitional time after the death of Eyadéma and the presidential elections in April 2005, these tactics by security forces could be noted. Several opposition demonstrators were killed. In January 2005, critical journalists still faced intimidation under Faure Gnassingbé’s government.

1.4. Stability of democratic institutions

Although institutions performed formally very well during the survey, they cannot be regarded as democratic as such. The country was not ruled by government decrees, but by parliamentary bills. Parliament, however, decided on bills that supported the president’s interests - often on a short notice - but it did not debate legislation. Courts made decisions but they did not apply an independent interpretation of the law, instead they followed orders. Political parties existed and had platforms but they were neither given the freedom nor the financial means to organize an internal party debate that could contribute to democratic decision-making.

The opposition never really accepted the political institutions as they were functioning. The president himself neglected them or used them for support or approval of his politics. Therefore, one cannot talk of the existence of democratic institutions.

1.5. Political and social integration

The ruling party, the Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais (RPT), holds a hegemonic position in the party system. However, it lacks all elements that would normally be attributed to a political party, that is to say, internal democracy, open debates on programs, free elections. It is a strongly hierarchical instrument for the conservation of power. Until February 2005, opposition parties lost public support due to their failure to use the once-won majority in 1993. But this lack of support is also a result of their lack of financial means and constant intimidation. Since Eyadéma’s death, however, opposition parties have started to play a more significant role in the “collectif societé civile” which is the driving force behind the protests against RPT’s attempts to avoid a fair electoral process. Still, these parties will need international support and protection merely to survive.

Workers’ unions do not have any strength. Especially the farmers, most important for the country’s survival, are deprived of any organization to defend their interests. NGOs exist and are only free to provide services as long as they deal with social or humanitarian issues. The government creates many organizations strictly to counterbalance some formerly critical associations. But as the latter seemed to have disappeared in recent years. However, they showed considerable strength recently when they re-emerged as “collectif société civile”. Some of this strength is based on the support of an extremely critical diaspora (Togolese citizens living abroad, mainly in France). Inside the country truly critical statements come only from representatives of the churches. Pastoral letters of both Catholic and Protestant churches have sporadically raised hope that a debate on national issues would be possible.

Because of the lack of survey data, people’s consent to democracy cannot be adequately evaluated. However, the majority of the people want the end of the regime and in its place a liberal environment. They are, however, very disappointed with the democratization process, which led the country into its present crisis. Therefore a profound apathy with regard to political issues can be observed. People only want to survive and have a minimum amount of freedom, but this desire is no longer linked to the democratic system of governance.

Due to the failure of government to provide basic social services and the lack of a conducive economic environment, self-organization has become more and more important, especially on the village level. But even here freedom is limited, as Eyadéma followers have systematically infiltrated village development committees. Nevertheless, efforts for common problem solving are gaining importance. The greatest handicap remains the climate of general distrust. Efforts of the churches to create reconciliation must be commended. They have always been in danger of being brutally stopped by the government once they induced a real desire for change.

2. Market economy

In principle, Togo is a free market country. The whole territory has even been declared a zone franche (free zone). The problem is therefore not so much freedom in the economic system but the lack of order that can level the playing field and give the same opportunities for entering the market to everybody. This is hampered by severe corruption and general distrust in the system.

2.1. Level of socioeconomic development

Although Togo has been able to avoid a very severe economic decline and maintain commercial and subsistence farming, a growing exclusion of wider segments of the population from economic and social opportunities has been observed. Togo ranks 143rd in the Human Development Index. And the government’s efforts to improve public health and education systems remains at a very low level with 1.5% and 4.8% of national spending respectively. More than 32% of Togolese citizens continue to live under the national poverty line. Access to secondary, professional or tertiary education is hardly possible for the great majority of Togolese. With more than 50% of people under the age of 18, the actual governmental provisions to facilitate the entry of young people into economic activities are by far too small. Girls are even more disadvantaged, as evidenced by the female literacy rate of just above 40% (compared to 74% for men).

2.2. Organization of the market and competition

Togo ranks 112th of 123 countries in the Index of Economic Freedom, and does not even figure in the World Economic Forum’s Growth Competitiveness Index (CGI). This is due to the complete absence of an institutional framework for the economy. Togo has become a safe haven for all sorts of smuggling and shabby deals. It does not provide any reliable framework for investments.

Administrative procedures for economic licenses are too slow and include a set of additional costs for the applicant due to corrupt practices. Administrative support is only given to politically correct people, such as those who support the ruling party. Consequently, the country relies mainly on a very strong informal sector. Production, trade and services (including financial services) are mainly organized or provided outside the formal system. This system is astonishingly efficient but it is also very volatile as regards major economic changes.

Under international pressure, the government has given up some state monopolies, like the exploitation of phosphate. Some key production units have been given to foreign investors under unclear circumstances, who now exercise their own control over the market. The personal relations of top government officials with certain companies in most sectors are a very important source of income for them.

The countrywide zone franche and especially the port, one of the most vibrant in West Africa, are under government control. Freedom and competition only exist on paper. De facto, a few networks rule the system in close cooperation with government circles led by members of late President Eyadéma’s family.

The country’s banking system is – despite very high interest rates – relatively intact. This is a consequence of Togo’s membership in the CFA franc zone. However, government involvement in lending and banking decisions has caused the banking sector to deteriorate in recent years. Banks must be careful not to grant more credits to companies that are operating with little competence and only because of strong relations to government. This can lead to an increasing number of loans that cannot be recovered. On the capital market, micro-finance systems play an ever-growing role especially for the small and medium scale sector. They provide easy and rapid access to capital and perform with quite transparent procedures.

2.3. Currency and price stability

The stability of the currency is definitely one of the most important factors contributing to the relatively peaceful situation in Togo, because it makes economic operations, mainly based on import-export relations, still viable in the country. This situation is favored by Togo’s membership to the Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (West African Economic and Monetary Union, WAEMU) and as a member of the CFA franc monetary union. Nevertheless, inflation is increasing and hits economic operations as well as peoples’ ability to survive, because salaries have practically remained the same since the devaluation of the CFA franc in 1994.

Producer prices for agricultural products are kept low by government intervention. A recent increase in prices for petrol and diesel (35%) and respective increases in all sectors dependent on this energy supply have set a new wave of inflationary developments in motion. Togo’s government was able to get people to organize a support rally, where citizens thanked the president for price increases.

The economic situation looks stable for the moment. It depends, however, on a very innovative and flexible informal sector and the previously mentioned stability of the currency. This results in a volatile situation, as a real valuation of the over-valued CFA, which is linked to the euro, might happen at any time. The flexibility of informal trade operations, mainly in the hands of Togolese women, can easily come to a standstill once minimal profits can no longer be realized. A further serious handicap for economic consolidation lies in limited industrial production, which furthermore is mainly in the hands of foreigners. Trade does by far contribute most to the GDP.

2.4. Private property

The protection of private property is basically guaranteed but the weakness of the judicial system hinders its actual enforcement. Private entrepreneurship has been the backbone of Togo’s economy since the Cold War. Even during the period of review the economy depended on the activities of private actors, especially in the informal sector. The informality of economic regulations is the reason for a low standard of workers’ protection.

Under the pressure of the Bretton Woods organizations, certain sectors of the economy have been privatized. This, however, has paradoxically increased the government’s influence, because the exercise was handled with little transparency and opened doors for informal government participation in profit sharing.

2.5. Welfare regime

There is a lack of social services all over the country. The sick, elderly and unemployed people cannot count on public support. Basic systems of social support for people in need only work in areas where foreign assistance through international organizations, other governments, churches or NGOs is given. Even in the crucial field of HIV and AIDS, the government is only assisting with the means provided by the Global Fund. It has never really recognized the existence and the increase of HIV infections prevalent in the country. People who are not able to creatively maintain their livelihoods but depend on the solidarity of others suffer and find it difficult to survive. Traditional solidarity systems come under immense pressure because of the fragile economic situation, the rising prevalence of HIV and AIDS and the insufficient possibility for the majority of people to accumulate savings.

Women lack adequate access to public office and to educational institutions, as shown by the low percentage of women in Parliament and a poor GDI rating (119th of 144 evaluated countries). During the period of review, there were only four female ministers (social affairs, health, culture and tourism) and six women in the 81-member national assembly. As regards their social and economic position, women formally have equal rights. In practice, a clear distinction between rural and urban Togo must be made. While women dominate some of the economic sectors in towns, they are still oppressed by traditional practices in rural areas. They are targets of male violence; many young women become victims of female genital mutilation. For such cases, the state does not provide any protection whatsoever.

2.6. Economic performance

While inflation rates remain low, structural stagnation is significant for the economic situation. Basic government policies have not been reformed at all; so further investments in productive sectors are not encouraged. The government is still operating with a budget deficit, which is partly caused by high expenditures for the military and security forces. At present, the situation is slightly improving because Togo’s economy benefits from the crisis in the Côte d’Ivoire. Profits, however, are hardly reinvested in the productive sectors of the economy. Only the informal sector is showing high effectiveness and some growth.

2.7. Sustainability

The way the government deals with matters of ecological importance clearly shows its lack of capacity to rule the country with a long-term perspective. Urban and rural waste management systems scarcely exist. Pollution of the country’s water supplies is on the rise. At the same time, the once abundant forest reserves, resulting from plantations of the German colonial period, are systematically exploited without any benefit to the state budget and only for the profit of government officials and foreign companies – at the price of severe ecological degradation. There are no reforestation efforts nor are there efforts to promote alternative energies. Farmers as a consequence of this deficiency observe serious changes of the microclimate.

Togo’s education system is in shambles. Primary and secondary education takes place in deplorable school buildings with insufficient didactic materials. Classes are too big, there is no reliable nutritional support and the water and sanitation systems in schools have often completely disappeared. In addition, there is a high rate of non-attendance to schools because children necessarily have to assist in their parents’ households. This phenomenon is even more pronounced among girls. To complicate matters more, teachers are often paid several months late. They are hardly motivated to work under these conditions, which are becoming worse due to the bad health situation of students. Without the efforts of churches in primary and secondary schools, the system would already have completely collapsed.

The campus of the university in Lomé, once planned for 7,000 students and now supposed to take care of 17,000, is by far too small and poorly equipped. There is no environment conducive for studies. In addition, students are constantly threatened by political infiltration and control, which abounds in the absence of true academic freedom. Research does not exist in practical terms. In line with its general policy to favor the region around Kara, Togo’s government is now operating a new university campus in the north. This will inevitably lead to a further degradation of the Lomé campus unless an unlikely increase in overall spending on education takes place.

3. Management

3.1. Level of difficulty

Although Togo faces the typical problems of a low-income country with low human development, the country displays comparatively positive conditions for a government to rule and develop it. Equipped with similar potential, neighboring Ghana and Benin have both shown that substantial progress is possible on political and economic levels. Togo has some important raw materials. In addition, the condition of the soil is still very good, making farming a potentially lucrative business. The country is well-positioned: a transit place to the Sahel countries and a border with the Gulf of Guinea combine with important trade connections to Benin and Nigeria in the east and Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in the west. This position creates commercial opportunities. The country’s capital Lomé has good chances to regain its important place as an international conference center. There is potential to attract tourism. Finally, one has to mention the amazing charm of Togolese people and their sense of entrepreneurship. The latter specifically applies to Togolese women. Togo’s citizens are attached to the land so that a situation of political freedom and economic opportunities would most probably reverse the actual brain drain and attract some investments from Togolese people who now live in the diaspora.

On the negative side one has to mention the increasing rate of HIV infections and people living with AIDS. The pandemic can only be slowed with resolute steps taken by the government and other important institutions. The country’s infrastructure has deteriorated in the last decade but is still good enough to be rebuilt rapidly, once consequent policies are applied.

The composition of civil society is very rudimentary. Its continued creation cannot build on substantial traditions and suffers from the general climate of distrust. Government control has always made it difficult to work in sensitive fields. Moreover, many civil society organizations suffer from the syndrome of leadership orientation. They do not function in a truly participatory manner and can therefore hardly stimulate the creation of a democratic society. Often, civil society organizations are only created with the aim of financial gains, often by obtaining donor money, but they lack any vision or a clear definition of their raison d’être. Many NGOs are the government’s own creation with the aim to either control the respective sector or to have financial advantages. There is still a certain degree of self-organization in villages, which finds some support from churches and NGOs. These efforts can serve as a starting point for a serious decentralization effort in the future. Labor unions are very weak; farmers have no representation at all.

Togo’s government has always played and still plays the regional card. The region around Kara, which is indeed structurally disadvantaged as compared to the south, gets a lot of government investments. To speak of a general support for the north, however, is wrong, as the infrastructure of the far north around Dapaong remains completely unassisted by government. The Togolese youth show efforts to overcome regional rhetoric. Recently, even some village development committees from different parts of the country started to visit each other with the assistance of the church in order to create a better mutual understanding.

Islam is spreading with support of the government, which does not like the critical positions taken by churches. So far, however, the situation is still balanced, as both Islam and Christianity are not fundamentalist in character.

Togo’s people, their will to survive, their flexibility and their ability to adapt would be excellent conditions for a fresh effort to govern the country and provide better framework conditions.

3.2. Steering capability

The political leadership has steering power, but does not set any policy priorities, particularly with regard to political transformation. Reforms are requested from outside and implemented only if they promise either political or economic gains for the government.

Leaders act very flexibly when they have to change positions in order to maintain power. This is the final rationale behind their activities. In general, they do not react in a flexible manner to development challenges, as they do not even study and recognize them carefully. One has to mention, however, that time and again there have been morally solid ministers or high ranked administrators even in Eyadéma’s governments who tried to make best use of their position for the common good. These people, because of their experience in the administration, might become very important figures for a reconstruction of the country in the future, although they were never able to implement structural changes in the country. Once they tried to do this with very good intentions, they were made to lose all their personal, material and social possession, as was the case of former president of the assembly Dahuku Pere, who, being absolutely loyal to Eyadéma, once tried in a very polite letter to request some changes in the ruling party. He was stripped of all his powers and positions.

3.3. Resource efficiency

Resources such as the unique market position of the port and the country’s raw materials are exploited quite effectively, when this serves government officials’ personal interests. The use of these resources, however, has never been directed toward a sustainable development policy, let alone democratic transformation. The administrative system of the country is used to control the country not to stimulate development and create positive investment opportunities.

The government does not care about policy coordination. If there are positive steps, they depend only on the efforts of individual members of government.

Although there is an official anti-corruption policy, the government cannot really stop corruption for the reason that it has come to power by corruption, remains there by corruption and uses its position to make corruption a tool for self-enrichment.

3.4. Consensus-building

The official statements of leaders with regard to the protection of democracy, the rule of law and good governance are very clear, since this became a prerequisite for Western support. The government’s declarations sound as if they are taken from the textbooks that describe the parameters of good governance. Every step in the last decade (1995-2005) was designed to create the image of a regime following the rules of a democratic system. This new political approach did not appear to cause any problem to a president who had abandoned all political parties in the years before. As he was constantly commended for his leadership style by the French government, it was very difficult for other observers to get a response for their constant hints on human rights abuses or for the discrepancy between official statements and the actual exercise of power. It was a consequent follow-up to this situation, therefore, that even the military coup of February 2005 (which forced Faure Gnassingbé to power) was justified by the new minister for communication on the grounds of the need to have intact democratic institutions in place. A close look at real government practice, however, shows a picture of rigged elections, arbitrary changes to the constitution and severe human rights violations. Leaders were appointed against the will of the people. This is the case on the local level as well as for the central government.

To protect a market-based economy (in the definition of the government) meant that any sort of economic activities could be exercised as long as there was some benefit for the government itself. Rules that would control the abuse of economic power, regulate the exploitation of the country’s resources, set minimum standards for the workers’ welfare or even guarantee fair shares for the biggest providers of national wealth, namely the farmers, never did exist. In the contrary, prices for agricultural products were artificially fixed on a very low level, thus making it very difficult for the agricultural sector to produce adequately and to gain enough in order to modernize agricultural production. That is the main reason why agricultural techniques in Togo remain on a very low level.

During the period of review, reforms (bringing up new policy elements aimed at improving the economic and social standards in the country) did not take place, although the democratic forces in the country demanded them. If there were any reforms they had to serve the government’s interest, as was the case with the constitutional changes that were unanimously voted on by parliament after Eyadéma’s death. The fact that the Faure Gnassingbé first accepted the throne with such doubtful and internationally criticized procedures does not make it very likely that democracy will be installed, least of all after he was declared winner of the suspicious April 2005 elections.

The late Eyadéma was keen to be praised as Africa’s greatest mediator. He was proud of the peacekeeping role he played in different conflicts on the continent. Whilst it is doubtful whether his role in this respect was really as important as he wanted to make the public believe, it is definitely certain that Eyadéma increased conflict situations within Togo rather than diminished them. The cleavage between northern and southern Togo was constantly overemphasized by the president in order to justify his political tactics of bringing Kabye (members of his own tribe) into key positions of government and the army and to deprive other ethnic groups, especially the Ewe of the south, of the same right. The use of the regional argument gradually lost importance in recent years, especially among young Togolese citizens. People no longer trusted in the president’s political statements and have made consensus-creation their own task.

In the same manner regional cleavages were overemphasized and thus abused by Eyadéma and his followers, they were always able to play a divide et impera-strategy with regard to political parties, NGOs and the trade unions. In order to destroy any social capital that might one day be of danger for them, they bought out leaders of their respective movements and organizations by offering them positions or money. Where this was not possible, intimidation was used to make upright people depart from their critical position. The only institutions in the country where such a policy was not successful are the churches. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church, the archbishop of Lomé, even suffered from a severe hindrance to work in his own diocese. This, however, did not make him give up his respectable position. The oppression of any critical movement in the country caused a considerable exodus of democratically minded Togolese citizens, who, mainly living in France, continued to criticize Eyadéma’s rule. This section of the population might play an important role in the future if chances to freely get involved in political and economic activities within the borders of the country increase.

NGOs were allowed to participate as long as they remained non-political and limited to social or cultural objectives. When there was a danger that NGOs could become too strong, Eyadéma created government-obedient NGOs in order to split the movement. He was especially successful with this strategy as regards human rights organizations.

From the perspective of Eyadéma’s government, there have never been any victims of past injustices except the president himself. Eyadéma was always portrayed as the survivor of brutal attacks and as a defender of national interest of almost divine qualities. That is the reason why certain aspects of his own political career always had to have more public attention, shown in parades and other performances than the achievement of independence through the first president Sylvanus Olympio. In Eyadéma’s self-centered vision of Togo’s political history there was no need for any reconciliation or pardoning exercise because there have never been any failures in his doings.

3.5. International cooperation

Togo’s government has always had the support of the French government, with or without reforms. Whilst being confronted officially with French policy statements that claimed respect for and defense of the rule of law and of democratic procedures and institutions, the president could always be sure of having secret support by the French as long as they could maintain their strong position in the country and, with Togo as one of the strong pillars, in the region. That is the reason why French President Jacques Chirac was the first to congratulate Eyadéma after his victory in the manipulated presidential elections of 2003 and why the same French leader called the Togolese president Africa’s best president in 2004. Unfortunately, the French never used their influence in order to claim or at least negotiate real reforms with the Togolese government. France’s interest is of a strategic and economic nature and was never based on human rights and freedom. This role was left to other international partners mainly the EU with a leading role of the governments of Germany and Spain and also the United States. In recent years, requests for reforms were increasingly formulated by African leaders, namely those who are at the forefront of creating a sound democratic order in Africa through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the AU. The leaders of Nigeria and South Africa were also the first, at the occasion of pronouncing their condolences to the people of Togo, to request a truthful democratic succession procedure and respect for the country’s constitution.

Eyadéma has been a reliable partner to those governments and institutions that gave him support in order to stay in power or that shared the same way of doing international politics with him (to act bare of any moral principles or reliable standards). That is the reason why he hosted former Zaire’s President Mobutu Sese Seko in Lomé after his defeat in Kinshasa as well as Patassé, the former president of the Central African Republic. Any alliances of the Togolese government were marked by sheer calculation of political or economic benefits. Often relations with neighbors are quite frosty as was the case for almost two decades with regard to neighboring Rawlings-governed Ghana.

Togo is a member of both ECOWAS, the West African Economic Community and of WAEMU, the currency union of most of the French-speaking West African countries. It participates regularly at meetings and respects the rules of these organizations as they are of utmost importance for the country’s stability and form the most important condition for Togo’s economy to function. Apart from this general framework for regional policy coordination, Eyadéma’s government ran into several conflicts with neighboring governments time and again. Especially when Eyadéma’s policy produced thousands of refugees who fled to neighboring Ghana and Benin, tensions between the governments of those countries and Togo raised enormously (there has been a recent influx of Togolese refugees after the electoral violence in April 2005). In that crisis, as in other similar situations, however, Eyadéma finally managed to come to an agreement of mutual laissez-faire.

4. Trend of development

4.1. Democratic development

In the five years previous to this survey, there had been no substantial change with regard to stateness, the rule of law and the public’s participation. The rigged presidential elections of 2003 have increased the alienation between the institutions of government and the Togolese people. Consequently, the attitude of Togolese citizens with regard to their rulers and the political system can be described as apathetic. People are interested in helping their families survive the economic crisis and live in peace without major conflicts with government.

Sporadic expressions of criticism or disobedience to governance, as they sometimes arose on the campus of the university, were immediately oppressed by government. Hopes were raised in certain though small political circles of the opposition when the agreement between the Togolese government and the EU was reached in November 2004. Since then, a new electoral bill has passed parliament. This code did not satisfy the expectations of the opposition and remained behind the agreement between the Republic of Togo and the EU, which foresees an electoral framework that must be approved by all political parties.

Because Togo does not qualify as a democracy, any comment on the consolidation of democracy for the period under investigation is obsolete.

4.2. Market economy development

The best way to describe Togo’s economic development between 2000 and 2005 is stagnation. Although there was a slight improvement in the HDI index of 0.005 between 1995 and 2000 (and by 0.004 until 2002), several ups and downs during the same period indicate that no real change can be recognized. Because Togo had reached a degree of development in earlier periods that was higher than that of all its direct neighbors, the country is still benefiting from these achievements.

There have been no substantial institutional changes with regard to the market economy. The country is still making profit from the unique market position of its harbor, especially after the beginning of the crisis in the Côte d’Ivoire. The construction of an additional pier for this port shows that Togo’s government is aware of this important asset to the economy.

Observers see clear indicators that the increased use of the port by companies from as far as Mali and Niger, which is due to the severe crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, high prices in Ghana and the obscene degree of corrupt practices in neighboring Benin, will lead to an increase of the overall economic development, although recent figures were not available at the time of this writing. In addition, the regular production in one of West Africa’s biggest cement factories in southeastern Togo leads to an increased volume of trade. The payment of salaries to government employees is therefore quite regular as of this writing, which is a significant improvement. The government’s income, however, is not yet significant enough to enhance additional investments in the country’s infrastructure.

Development of macroeconomic fundamentals (2000-2004)

Growth of GDP in %a 
Export growth in %a 
Import growth in %a 
Inflation in % (CPI)a 
Gross domestic investment in % of GDPb 
Government revenue in % of GDP (excluding grants) b 
Unemployment in % 
Government deficit/surplus in % of GDP (excluding grants) b 
Current account balance in m $a 

Source: a. EIU country report October 2004; b. African Development Indicators 2004.

D. Strategic perspective

Togo’s political and economic future is very difficult to predict. After Faure Gnassingbé’s dubious victory in the April 2005 elections, opposition leader Emmanuel Bob-Akitani declared himself the winner. His supporters took to the streets and major civil rest ensued, causing some 100 civilian casualties. At the time of this writing however, it appears likely that Togo will avoid a major civil war. Having refused toleration of opposition for decades, the Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais (RPT) will likely continue to play a dominant role on national, urban and rural levels.

It remains unclear whether international pressure on the regime will increase in the coming months. The international community wants to avoid a repeat of events like those seen in the decade following the death of Côte d’Ivoire’s President Felix Houphouët-Boigny or even the outbreak of a civil war as seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo and might accept Faure Gnassingbé as a “lesser evil” or a guarantor of political stability. Before the elections, the United Nations, African Union, EU and several other African and European governments made clear statements on the need for maintaining democratic development. However, both ECOWAS countries and France appear to have accepted the questionable election results and criticized the opposition leader for declaring himself winner. They have called for a government of national reconciliation in which the ruling party would most likely sideline opposition forces.

Furthermore, the present government can be expected to enjoy the continued support of the army. A systematic response on the part of opposition parties will probably fail due to their internal organizational weakness and inability to unite against the ruler. As long as these conditions persist, the democratic movement in Togo will depend primarily on international support.

International pressure, led by the AU and with the support of the EU and the United Nations, will most likely include a re-negotiation of the terms of international cooperation with the new Togolese government. If the RPT is to maintain its power beyond the next elections, it must institute substantial changes to improve the overall socioeconomic situation, which is conceivable only with international assistance.

An optimistic view of Togo’s future calls for a compromise between government, opposition leaders and the international community on election dates and key election procedures. With the help of proper technical preparation and strong international observation, both presidential and legislative elections could take place during the second half of 2005 or in 2006.

Reports on Faure Gnassingbé Eyadéma indicate that he is quite moderate in his views and belongs to the reform-oriented wing of the RPT. He also holds a degree in business administration and economics, which might suggest he will give priority to economic and social recovery on his political agenda.

Substantial economic recovery might therefore be visible in Togo before true political consolidation takes root or democratic procedures, such as decentralization or communal decision-making are introduced. International pressure therefore must be clear and persistent with regard to the rule of law, good governance and an inclusive participatory system of rule. International response should first of all consist of clear and unanimous demands for democratic principles to be implemented in Togo. France, both in official statements and diplomatic negotiations, must also support such demands.

Clear demands for these principles must be combined with effective support to civil society, political parties and any other movements aiming to facilitate the future of democracy. A special effort should be made to establish the rule of law in Togo, as the existence of a strong and independent judiciary system is the single most important prerequisite to political and economic recovery, international investors’ confidence and for the creation of a participatory spirit among the population. It is the only way to re-create trust in the society.

The demand for the rule of law, respect for democratic principles and the support for their respective structures and procedures must be accompanied by a well-defined and conditioned support of economic recovery in Togo.

In the next one to two years, Togo may have a final chance at regaining economic strength and building a democratic society. Coherent international support is absolutely crucial to this goal.

Initially, African reactions to the situation in Togo following Eyadéma’s death justified expressed hopes that this might serve as the first event in which the community of democratic African states assume responsibility by urging respect for the constitution and the installation of a true democracy. However, it appears that this has become a missed opportunity.

BTI 2006


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BTI 2003


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BTI 2003


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©2004 Bertelsmann Stiftung