Togo in the 1970’s

Togo in the 1970's

Population. – The Togolese population is 2.35 million residents. (1977) which are distributed over a territory of 56,600 km 2 with an average density of 40 residents per km 2, very high for Africa, which however is distributed irregularly. Alongside high densities in the southern, north-western and central areas (around Sokodé and along the railway from Lomé to the north), we find districts with no more than 5-6 residents / km 2. The population growth rate is around 26%, around the average for neighboring countries. The population of Lomé approaches 230,000 residents, the second city (Sokodé) does not reach 30,000; the low percentage of urban population (around 15%) and the relatively high population of the capital testify to an urban development of a purely colonial type.

Economy.- The Togo is very backward from the economic point of view and does not enjoy the prosperity, albeit relative, of other coastal states of West Africa: the per capita gross income is US $ 230 (1976). Agriculture occupies 70% of the active population and is characterized by having little interest in export products: almost 80% of the cultivated areas are occupied by subsistence crops. This is due to the relatively high population density for which the plantations are confined to the less inhabited and less productive areas, while there are intensive crops destined for the local market in the others (especially in the south, where the climate is more humid).

These last productions concern: corn, rice, sorghum, millet, cassava, sweet potato and peanuts. Except for rice, of which Togo is deficient, these products are sufficient to meet the needs and sometimes fuel export flows, otherwise small, as in the case of peanuts. Market crops involve cocoa, coffee, cotton and oil palm. Cocoa production is on the rise (from 137 to 170,000 q from 1963 to 1977) and places the country in the top ten places in the world ranking of producers, while coffee production has been around 130,000 q for over a decade, as it faces competition from other African countries better organized from this point of view.

In the country there are deposits of bauxite, iron and phosphates, but only the latter, present in high-content minerals, have been exploited, since 1961, by the French majority Compagnie Togolaise des mines du Bénin, which organized various and important infrastructures. Production underwent a rapid increase to reach 2.67 million tonnes in 1976.

The industry consists almost exclusively of processing both agricultural and mining raw materials: processing cassava, coffee, palm oil (a soap factory in Lomé), the CO.TO phosphate enrichment plant. .MI.B. The industries for the local market are distributed around the cities and often have little more than an artisanal character; beverages, construction, repair shops.

Communications and commerce. – The country, on the other hand, is fairly well equipped in terms of communication routes: 1800 km of roads and 500 km of railways on such a limited territory are not negligible for West Africa. Major expansion works are underway in the port of Lomé. The trade balance is chronically passive; most of the trade relations with neighboring countries take place with Ghana and with France for overseas countries.

History. – Having achieved independence on April 27, 1960, under the leadership of S. Olympio (president of the Republic since April 1961 and former prime minister since 1958), Togo aimed to consolidate national integrity, threatened by the annexationist aims of Ghana, and to promote socio-economic progress; in January 1963 a military coup (first in Black Africa) established – after the assassination of Olympio – a government coalition, headed by N. Grunitzky (former prime minister from 1956 to 1958), then president of the Republic (a referendum approved a new constitution on May 5). The contrasts within the coalition created serious difficulties for the government, threatened by attempts at coup d’état (more serious that of November 1966) and resulted in a serious constitutional crisis which ended, in January 1967, for the intervention of col. E. Eyadema; after a quarter of government of a National Reconciliation Committee, Eyadema directly assumed the presidency of the Republic and formed a new ministry.

According to itypeusa, the return to parliamentary regime, announced several times by Eyadema, was resolutely excluded in the November 1971 congress by the majority of the Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais (RPT, established in 1969 as a single party flanked by collateral organizations). A referendum in January 1972 confirmed President Eyadema in power (99% in favor); in the autumn of 1977 worker protests and alleged subversive attempts unsettled the country. Since 1974, Togo, having abandoned the previous economic liberalism, has introduced a policy of control and government planning of the economy, with the primary aim of avoiding any neo-colonial dependence (the great Compagnie togolaise de mines du Bénin has been nationalized); together a campaign for “national authenticity” was launched, between other with the replacement of all personal names and foreign toponyms (the president called himself Gnassingbe). The international credit has consolidated the prestige of Eyadema, who maintains close relations with the military regimes of Nigeria and Zaire; the Economic Community of West African States (CEDEAO) was set up in May 1975 on a Togo-Nigerian initiative. In recent years, the ties of cooperation with France (tightened by the Grunitzky government in 1963) have loosened; but Togo is still tied, especially to Western countries, from which he receives financial and technical aid (confirmed in the visit of Eyadema, in September 1977, in France and in the Federal Republic of Germany).

Togo in the 1970's