SEATTLE, Washington — The year 2020 has brought many different changes to the country of Togo. Its economic sector lies heavily on agriculture, but drought and wildfires hit the country hard. Due to a recently disputed Presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire, Togo has also received a substantial amount of refugees seeking safety from political backlash and violence. Adding the COVID-19 outbreak to these issues, the country finds itself in a very tight position. In a sign of positivity, Togo recently elected its first female Prime Minister, who aims to take immediate action economically. This historic event could not have happened at a more crucial time as the Togolese government has just made a large industry investment in crop refining and mineral excavation.
Elections in in Côte d’Ivoire
Political violence has plagued many different countries throughout this year, and southern Africa has been no exception. On November 9, there was a Presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Alassane Ouattara won his third term in a row by a high margin. The public rejected and shunned the results after the outcome was made official. Before the election, President Ouattara had publicly stated that he would not seek another reelection after already serving two prior terms back to back.
In response, social pressure quickly started to mount and heavy acts of violence began to spark. This left a dozen citizens dead and many wounded. Out of safety and concern, thousands of Ivorian citizens have made a mass exodus into nearby countries seeking asylum, one of them being Togo. Most of these refugees have been women and children. Although countries have established social distancing measures since the introduction of COVID-19, the neighboring countries have been gracious in keeping their borders open to the refugees. There has already been an expected food shortage looming due to COVID-19, and more citizens expected to arrive daily.
Elections in Togo
As the Ivory Coast was holding its annual Presidential election, Togo was also holding its election. The political outcomes of these two elections could not have been more different. Togo made history when the 60-year-old country elected its first female Prime Minister. Victoire Tomegah Dogbe is not a newcomer to the world of politics. In fact, she already has an admired reputation in the Togolese government. She has a strong track record by already working in numerous areas for the current President of Togo.
Perhaps one of the most positive characteristics of Dogbe is the fact that she not only has experience in office but more importantly, she is a person who knows the struggle of those in poverty. She has also put in time with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and has strong ties with youth employment creation and poverty reduction efforts. It would seem that her landmark victory has been a long time overdue since there has been a building social resentment toward Togo’s re-elected President, Faure Gnassingbe.
Gnassingbe has held the Presidential title since 2005 and faced growing criticism for his failure to repair the country’s damaged economy along with alleged acts of political corruption and social brutality. Many are eager to see the positive difference that Dogbe’s reform policies are going to bring to the country. Although she and her staff are still preparing policy details, many are expecting her to take hands-on strategies to solve the country’s severe lack of equal opportunity.
New Investments in Togo
There is now a possibility for a real substantial economic development in the form of a new investment deal for the agriculture and mineral utilization industry. Togo is currently right in the middle of a planned strategy for natural resource development (PND) which began in 2018 and is set to last until 2022. This is a strategy that is poised to use the strengths and knowledge of what comes naturally to the people of Togo: agriculture.
Landmass for agriculture and farming accounts for almost three-fourths of the area of Togo. In fact, more than half of the people rely on farming and agriculture for sustainable jobs. In April, Fdiintelligence.com sat down with Togo’s agricultural minister, Noël Kotera Bataka, to discuss further details of the project. Noel optimistically stated, “The agricultural sector represents the greatest potential in terms of business opportunities and rapid job and wealth creation, particularly for young people and women.”
This economic investment would also grant new opportunities for the country’s local farmers to be involved in the agricultural production process. In the area of mineral excavation, the country owns almost 60 tons of raw phosphate, which is a key ingredient for crop nutrition and various electronics. In late 2019, Dangote Group, a company from Nigeria, decided to move forward with putting $2 billion in capital towards the construction of a phosphate refining facility. Other foreign investors have also come on board for new business ventures in the form of a planned cement refinery and organic fabric creation.
A Bright Future
The new agricultural industry business venture is an ascending step for equal prosperity for the people of Togo. While there is much still to be reconciled in the social and political areas of South Africa, Victoire Dogbe’s victory is sure to set a new precedent for gender equality in African politics. As the first female Prime Minister, Dogbe has a very unique opportunity to show her true humanitarianism by continuing the assistance and aid of the refugees seeking political refuge. This landmark in history will hopefully encourage future girls and women to follow their ambitions.
– Brandon Baham