Togo’s industrial sector is quite small. The largest industries manufacture cement and clinker. There are also factories for the production of fertilizers and other industries linked to the country’s phosphate extraction.
Otherwise, most companies are small and mainly produce consumer goods or agricultural products such as coffee beans, cotton, cassava flour and palm oil. There is also a brewery and a steel plant.
Industrial development is hampered by the country’s small domestic market and the Togolese’s usually weak purchasing power. Competition from low-cost countries in Asia and Nigeria is also an obstacle. In addition, there are problems with transport and with irregular access to electricity.
Since the 1990s, the government has sought to privatize state-owned industries, or lease out several state-owned companies, and the most unprofitable ones have also been closed down.
Foreign companies have been attracted since 1990 with an economic free zone (EPZ) in the capital Lomé. In the zone, companies are allowed to establish themselves on favorable terms, provided that most of the production is exported and that Togolese labor takes precedence. Another economic zone was later built.
Opposition leader arrested by police
Security forces seize opposition leader Agbeyome Kodjo at home. According to Kodjo’s lawyer, he is accused of threatening the country’s security. An anonymous source within the police states that the arrest took place after Kodjo failed to contact the police as ordered for the third time since April 1. Kodjo lost the presidential election in February but blamed on electoral fraud and proclaimed himself victorious (see Feb. 22, 2020). He also called on the country’s armed forces to rebel against the incumbent government and President Gnassingbe.
State of emergency against corona pandemic
President Gnassingbé faces a state of emergency and curfew in an attempt to curb the spread of the new coronavirus sars-cov-2, which caused a pandemic. As in many African countries, very few in Togo are tested for covid-19 disease due to resource shortages. When the state of emergency is introduced, Togo has 36 confirmed cases of coronary infection and two deaths. The dark figure is believed to be high.
Three newspapers are temporarily closed
The opposition-friendly weekly Fraternité is banned from publishing by the authorities after it published an article criticizing the recent closure of two other newspapers, L’Alternative and Liberté. Fraternité will be banned from publishing from 1 April and two months ahead. Liberté and L’Alternative have a prohibition on publishing from 23 March and 15 days and two months respectively. According to authorities, Liberté and L’Alternative have published unfounded allegations against Marc Vizy, France’s ambassador to Ghana, and Franck Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron’s African adviser, for unauthorized involvement in the Togo presidential election (see February 2020).
The appeal of the election result is rejected
The Constitutional Court declines an appeal against the election result. The appeal has been filed by Agbeyome Kodjo, who came second in the presidential election. He believes that Gnassingbé won by cheating. The Constitutional Court’s decision means that Gnassingbé can begin his fourth term in office. Election observers from AU and Ecowas urge Togolese to respect the election result.
Gnassingbé is re-elected
President Gnassingbé wins as expected presidential election. He gets 71 percent of the vote while Agbeyome Kodjo, former prime minister under Gnassingbé’s father, ranks second with 19 percent. Just before the election results are announced, Kodjo declares itself to be the country’s “democratically elected president” with between 57 percent and 61 percent of the vote. He says he will form his own government in the next few days. Kodjo accuses the regime of engaging in gross electoral fraud, such as fake ballots and fake polling stations. A comprehensive safety precaution makes the election day calm. 300 international election observers, mainly from AU and Ecowas, are monitoring the election. After the polling stations are closed, Kodjos residence in Lomé is surrounded by security forces for several hours. According to the authorities, this is done for Kodjo’s “own safety”. During the election campaign, Kodjo has increasingly emerged as Gnassingbé’s main opponent and ANC leader Fabré has gone out and urged his supporters to vote for Kodjo. The turnout is 76 percent.
Large security offer before Election Day
The electoral movement is described as calm. One reason for this is probably the large security offering that has been deployed in areas, such as Sokodé, where the regime-critical protests were most intense in 2017 and 2018. In their quarters, nightly curfews prevail. About 50 people have been arrested by military and police, suspected of planning an “armed uprising” and being members of an unknown group called the Tiger Revolution. Before Election Day, Gnassingbé promises to cure the high youth unemployment by creating half a million new jobs by 2022. He also promises stability and security in Togo, where many residents fear that violence from Islamist groups in neighboring Burkina Faso will spread across the border into country. The president has also promised electricity to the entire population by 2030.
Six candidates for the presidential post
When the deadline for registration expires, the Election Authority announces that six people will be running for president in the February 22 elections. Among them are President Gnassingbé, who wants to be re-elected for a fourth term, as well as opposition ANC leader Jean-Pierre Fabre as well as Kodjo Agbeyome of the MPDD.
Gnassingbé is running for re-election
7 th of January
President Gnassingbé announces that he is running for a fourth term as president in the February 22 elections. In May 2019, the constitution was amended so that one person can only be president for two terms of office instead of, as before, an unlimited number of times. However, this restriction does not apply retroactively, so Gnassingbé can stand for re-election both in 2020 and 2025. More than a dozen counter-candidates challenge Gnassingbé in the February election.