Togo Economics and Business

Togo is one of Africa’s smallest countries, with modest natural resources and limited population. By independence, the country had a relatively developed economy, partly based on the plantation economy and infrastructure developed under German colonial rule, when Togo was developed into a so-called pattern colony. However, after a prolonged economic downturn, as well as political turmoil from the 1990s, Togo, at the beginning of the 2000s, belonged to the socially and economically least developed countries in Africa. Lack of political stability contributed to withholding foreign aid in the 2000s. High population growth has created pressure on limited land resources, and the economic growth achieved has been unable to keep up with population growth.

Togo GDP (Nominal, $USD) 2003-2017

Although Togo has some industry, agriculture is the main trade route. Cotton is the most important export item in competition with phosphate. Revenue from phosphate extraction has been a cornerstone of the country’s economy, alongside agriculture. The state’s ownership interests in the business sector have been reduced through privatization from the 1990s.

According to COUNTRYAAH, tourism has been a significant source of income, but the visit dropped from the 1990s due to. the uncertain political situation in the country.

Mining and energy

Togo has few but valuable mineral resources, and derives its greatest revenue from the phosphate mines. Togo has among the world’s richest deposits of calcium phosphate, and the country is the fifth largest producer of the mineral. The phosphate deposits at Hahotoé, northeast of Lomé, are of extremely high quality. Limestone and marble are also extracted; the former is used, among other things, for local cement production. There are also untapped deposits of manganese, iron ore and chromite.

The consumption of electrical energy was in 2016 1,248 TWh, which was largely covered by imports from Ghana. Own production takes place partly from Lomé thermal power plants and a smaller hydroelectric power station (65 MW) at Kpalimé and Nangbeto on the Mano River – the latter in collaboration with Benin, and partly through extensive imports from Ghana. The share of hydropower varies widely from year to year, but in 2016 was around 80 percent. Lack of electrical energy is a barrier to economic development in Togo.

Exploration has been carried out for petroleum and uranium, among others. In 1999, oil and gas discoveries were reported, following a search by the Norwegian company Petroleum Geo-Service (PGS).

Agriculture and fishing

Togo is an agricultural country, and agriculture still accounts for around 40% of GNI and provides employment to nearly 60% of the working population. After growth in the first years after independence, growth was reduced in the 1970s; As a result of drought in the early 1980s, production declined thereafter. Since the 1990s, agricultural production has increased, and this year without drought, Togo is mainly self-sufficient in food. Among the most important agricultural products are cotton, cocoa, coffee, palm kernels, copra, peanuts and maize. Tomatoes, herbs and sugar cane are also grown for sale. Millet,manioc, yams, beans and rice are grown for their own consumption. The majority of the cultivation takes place on small farms. Of domestic animals, most goats, sheep and pigs are kept.

The forest area has declined sharply in recent years, amounting to approx. 15% of the land area.

Togo has a small coastline, and fishing is of less importance and is not sufficient to meet local demand.


Togo’s industrial sector is relatively small, and is mainly based on the processing of raw materials from agriculture and mining as well as the production of consumer goods to replace imports, including food and textiles. In the 1970s, it was invested in heavy industry, including the production of cement, which Norwegian interests (Scanem) later took on the ownership side through the Société des ciment du Togo (CIMTOGO). Furthermore, oil refineries and steelworks were established.

Foreign Trade

Togo’s current account deficit has been sustained since the late 1970s, and budget deficits are covered through borrowing and foreign aid. Due to the political crisis of the mid-1990s, much assistance was withheld. Main export goods are cotton, calcium phosphate, cement, cocoa beans and coffee. Part of the trade is illegal through smuggling. Imports come essentially from Europe and Canada, while neighboring countries are declining for a large part of exports. A free trade zone at Lomé was established in 1990.

Transport and Communications

Togo has direct road links to neighboring countries Benin and Ghana, and north of the country, with approx. 7520 km road. Rail goes from the coast to Palimé and Aného. Larger port of Lomé, which has international airport in Tokoin, as well as in Niamtougou (between Kara and Kandé) in the north.

  • According to AllCityPopulation, the capital city of Togo is Lomé with a population of 1,785,300 (UN estimate 2019). Other major cities include Sokode, Kara, Kpalimé.

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