BTI 2024 Country Report – Togo, Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2024

BTI 2024 Country Report – Togo, Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2024

Author : Bertelsmann Stiftung

Site of publication : BTI

Type of publication : Rapport

Date of publication :  2024

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History and Characteristics of Transformation

Established as a German colony in 1884, Togo became a U.N.-trusted territory under French administration following World War II and gained independence from France on April 27, 1960.

In the first democratic presidential elections of 1961, Sylvanus Olympio became president of the newly independent Togo. His assassination on January 13, 1963, by a group of Togolese veterans of the French colonial army, led by Sergeant Etienne Gnassingbé (later called Eyadéma), marked the first violent coup in the history of independent sub-Saharan Africa. After another coup d’état in January 1967, which ousted President Nicolas Grunitzki, Lt. Col. (later General) Gnassingbé Eyadéma assumed the presidency of Togo in April 1967. Eyadéma established a one-party government and ruled as Togo’s authoritarian head of state for 38 years.

When Gnassingbé Eyadéma died unexpectedly in February 2005 after nearly four decades of autocratic rule, the military proclaimed Faure Gnassingbé, one of the late president’s sons, as the new head of state. Widespread international protests compelled the new president to call presidential elections in April 2005. Despite international protests against massive irregularities in the election, Faure Gnassingbé was sworn in as president on May 4, 2005. The majority of the Togolese population protested against this manipulation of the public will, but the military brutally suppressed the protests. Approximately 700 people died, and over 40,000 citizens migrated to neighboring countries.

The country’s economy further declined. The first free parliamentary elections took place in October 2007. The governing party at the time, the Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) – succeeded in 2012 by the Union for the Republic (UNIR) – won an overwhelming majority under questionable conditions. Contested presidential elections in March 2010, April 2015 and February 2020 paved the way for a second, third and fourth five year mandate for Faure Gnassingbé. Prior to the presidential elections of 2020, the parliament voted for a modification of the constitution, limiting the number of presidential terms to two. This did not apply retroactively, securing the re-election of the president until 2030.

Transformation Status


In theory, the state maintains a monopoly on the use of force across its entire territory and population. However, Islamist terrorist groups regularly launch incursions in the northern region of the country. On the night of May 10–11, 2022, Togo experienced its first jihadist attack.

The northern areas are plagued with banditry and smuggling (gold, drugs, arms, fuel), creating a situation of insecurity among the local population, aggravating tensions between transhumant herders from Sahelian countries and providing terrorists with financial resources. While the south has not yet been affected by jihadist terrorism, maritime security remains a cause for concern. The Gulf of Guinea has emerged as one of the most dangerous bodies of water globally. Togo, like other coastal nations, lacks the resources to protect both its inshore and offshore waters, and relies on international initiatives to combat piracy.

For many years, it has been clear that most Togolese citizens seem to feel a basic sense of patriotism. However, the sentiment of national belonging is often mitigated by intra-ethnic and regional cleavages. Tensions between ethnic groups that date back to Togo’s colonial past still play a considerable role in limiting equal access to remunerative and strategically important public authorities, thereby abetting nepotism and compromising good governance. This is especially true with respect to the persistent divide between the Kabyè of northern Togo, who dominate Togo’s politics and security services, and the economically more powerful and largest Ewé tribe of southern Togo.

Rule of Law

The judiciary is not fully independent. The Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, the latter first inaugurated in 1997, are dominated by members loyal to the ruling party, as demonstrated by various biased decisions relating to recent elections.

Prison overcrowding is a major problem. As of December 31, 2021, the prison population was 5,148, despite the country’s 14 prisons only having capacity for 2,886. The pre-trial detention rate is 63% compared to the overall prison population, which negatively impacts detention conditions, as well as access to health care and other fundamental rights. In addition, 364 prisoners (guilty of petty offenses or fraud) received a presidential pardon at the end of their sentences in October 2022. The new code of criminal procedure was adopted by the National Assembly on November 2, 2022. However, a worrying rise in private justice was noted by the minister in charge of justice on December 10, 2022. Human rights violations committed by the security forces under the pretext of fighting armed terrorist groups are denounced by certain organizations.

Violence against women and the practice of female genital mutilation continue, though factors including donor-assisted awareness campaigns have led to a decrease. The National Assembly adopted Act No. 2022-020 on November 29, 2022, which protects students against sexual violence in Togo.

Stability of Democratic Institutions

Formal political institutions are only partially democratic, and their performance remains deficient. The president’s conduct in office shows more transparency and commitment to dialogue than was the case during his father’s regime. However, given that President Faure Gnassingbé is still surrounded by many figures from the old dictatorial regime, it is unclear how sincere and consistent these efforts may be.

Political and Social Integration

Togo has more than one hundred political parties.

The party system is still characterized by regional and ethnic divisions, which means that political parties tend to have readily identifiable ethnic and regional bases.

Several interest groups exist in Togo. The most influential Christian churches and the two Muslim organizations, the Union of Muslims in Togo (UMT, founded in 1964) and the Association of Muslim Executives of Togo (ACTM, founded in 2003), exert a mediating and constructive political influence that has been recognized far beyond their own followers. Earth priests and traditional chiefs still wield a strong influence at the local level.

Violence against women and the practice of female genital mutilation continue, though factors including donor-assisted awareness campaigns have led to a decrease. The National Assembly adopted Act No. 2022-020 on November 29, 2022, which protects students against sexual violence in Togo

Level of Socioeconomic Development

According to the Human Development Report 2022, Togo continues to rank among countries with low human development. In the 2021 Human Development Index, Togo ranked 162nd out of 191 countries in 2021, with a score of 0.539 up from 0.515 in 2019.

The incidence of poverty fell from 53.7% in 2017 to 45.5% in 2019 at the national level, according to the EHCVM survey (2018 – 2019). However, it remains twice as high in rural areas (58.8%) as in urban areas (26.5%).

Monetary and fiscal stability

As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Togo is unable to pursue an independent policy on currency and foreign exchange rates. The West African CFA franc is pegged to the euro at a rate of XOF 657.88 to €1, and, although the Central Bank of West African States is fully independent, the currency is heavily influenced by the European Central Bank’s anti-inflation policy


In addition, the country produces only a proportion of the energy that it consumes. Consequently, Togo is dependent on neighboring Ghana and Nigeria for electricity and gas supplies. On the other hand, Togo is less dependent on intercontinental trade than its neighbors, as it mostly exports goods (65%) to its West African neighbors.

The terrorist threat long confined to the Sahel has recently extended to northern Togo, with terrorist groups taking advantage of the relative poverty of the Savannah region. Terrorist threats now exert pressure on the governance of the country. Violent extremist groups take advantage of inadequate social and economic infrastructure; limited state presence; conflicts related to transhumance, land issues and leadership; and conflicts between the defense forces and security services.

Accelerated by the political crisis, migration has had an impact on the country’s labor force over the last two decades, with brain drain being a particular problem. Hundreds of thousands of Togolese refugees migrated to Europe due to political persecution during the political crises of the 1990s and 2005, notably to France and Germany. Although some emigrants have since had to return, many skilled workers of Togolese descent can be found in Europe as well as in neighboring West African countries.

Transnational conflicts of transhumance between pastoralists and agriculturalists are still virulent beneath the surface. Occasional instances of violence occur in about one-third of prefectures, notably in northern and central Togo.

Regional inequalities, and feelings of distrust and mutual antipathy between people in the south and north still need to be addressed. Having enjoyed the spoils of the system in recent years, northern Kabyè continues to hold an unduly high number of relevant public offices compared to their counterparts in the south, notably in the security services. There are sharp and increasing differences between rich and poor in Togo, but these have not yet led to a situation of violent conflict. However, growing discontent among unemployed school leavers contributes to political unrest in urban centers, notably in Lomé.

Governance Performance

International Cooperation

Togo benefited from international support in the fight against terrorism in 2022. On the security front, the United States’s regional security office, AFRICOM and INL regularly organize training for law enforcement, anti-terrorism security agents and judges. France is one of Togo’s most important partners in this area, with France providing substantial support for the country’s security forces. In September 2022, Togo signed a memorandum with the United Nations Office against Terrorism. As a result, the United Nations Office against Terrorism will make its program to combat the movement of terrorists through the establishment of a multi-agency passenger information collection unit available to Togo.

In June 2022, Togo became the 56th Commonwealth member, following the approval of Commonwealth leaders. The Commonwealth is a group of countries that are committed to doing their best to uphold shared values and to help one another. According to the minister of foreign affairs, acceptance of Togo’s membership application is above all a recognition of the considerable progress made by the country in recent years, not only in terms of good governance, democracy and human rights but also in terms of business reforms.

Transnational conflicts of transhumance between pastoralists and agriculturalists are still virulent beneath the surface. Occasional instances of violence occur in about one-third of prefectures, notably in northern and central Togo

Togo is a member of all relevant regional, African and international organizations, including ECOWAS and WAEMU in the West African region. Togo is actively working toward the realization of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which was established on March 21, 2018, during an extraordinary summit of African leaders in Kigali, Rwanda. With the Kingdom of Morocco, Togo concluded an entry visa exemption agreement for holders of ordinary passports, which entered into force on September 9, 2022. Peace and security in the Sahel and West Africa regions have been severely tested by repeated attacks from armed terrorist groups over the last few years.

Togo is actively involved on several fronts to help countries in the region. As such, Togo has remained a reliable and significant contributor to peacekeeping missions in the region. The country participates in AU and ECOWAS peacekeeping missions, contributing about 1,400 soldiers and policemen, notably in Mali.

Furthermore, Lomé hosted an international symposium on the management of political transitions and the strengthening of resilience in the face of violent extremism on March 6, 2022, as well as the third meeting of the support group for transition in Mali in September 2022. In addition, the third edition of the regional forum on education for peace through intra- and inter-religious dialogue consecrated Lomé as “the capital of peace, mediation, dialogue, and tolerance.”