Foreign policy and defense
Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Togo is a nation in Western Africa. Its capital city is Lome. For Togo’s foreign policy, the former colonial power of France is central. A growing threat from militant Islamists in Burkina Faso in the north has led Togo to increase security cooperation with the countries of the region.
Togo is relatively stable compared to most other countries in West Africa and now has working relationships with neighboring countries. From the end of the 2010, however, militant Islamists have greatly increased their presence in Burkina Faso. The government in Lomé fears that the violence will spread into northern Togo. In April 2019, representatives of Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Togo met in Lomé to establish a joint force. Earlier that month, the Togolese military had seized some 20 militant Islamists on Togolese territory.
- Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Togo for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
In May 2017, Togo and Benin conducted joint military operations for the first time along the border. Smuggling, weapons and drugs were seized and nearly 200 people were arrested. A year later, security forces from Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Togo carried out a similar effort with approximately the same result.
France, the EU and China
France supported Togo even after the EU decided in 1993 to freeze most of its aid due to a lack of democracy. France played a prominent role in trying to reach a consensus between the regime and the opposition in 1999. Since 2006, the Togo government has received French aid for the political reform process and also debts written off. Sweden, Italy and Switzerland have also written off debts that Togo had.
Togo’s relations with the EU affect both trade and political cooperation and are governed by the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement. The EU resumed some support for Togo in 2004. This was especially true of projects in support of human rights and democracy. By then, Togo had implemented some of the reform measures in an agreement with the EU (see Modern History). Following the 2007 parliamentary elections, the EU decided to establish full diplomatic relations and once again close aid to the country.
Togo’s relations with China have been strengthened during the 2010s, especially after President Gnassingbe’s visit to Beijing in May 2016. Bilateral cooperation agreements were signed in a number of areas. China has invested heavily in infrastructure in Togo and has acquired Togo’s support in an international context by financing major construction projects. Togo has, among other things, got a new presidential palace, a sports arena and a new parliament building of China.
Improved relationship with Ghana
The relationship with Ghana has at times been strained. Between 1982 and 1994, diplomatic relations were broken. The contradictions have included, among other things, smuggling, border violations and mutual accusations that resistance groups in each country have been allowed to have bases in the neighboring country.
After the turmoil of the 2005 presidential election in Togo (see Modern History), around 40,000 Togolese fled to Ghana and Benin. Many of these have since returned home. In 2018, more than 3,400 Togolese refugees remained in Ghana, according to the UN agency UNHCR, while the Togolese who fled to Benin received a residence permit. At the same time, Togo received thousands of people fleeing violence in the Ivory Coast following the 2010 presidential election as well as conflicts in northeastern Ghana. In 2018, almost 10,000 Ghanaian refugees remained in Togo.
Relations between Togo and Ghana have improved significantly during the 2000s and 2010s. However, a setback came in 2017 when riots arose around the border crossing at sea. At the end of the year, the Togolese fleet stopped two Ghanaian vessels from searching for oil in a disputed sea area. Negotiations for a solution to the conflict have been ongoing since then without concrete results.
Former President Eyadéma gladly assumed the role of mediator in conflicts in the region. As President of Ecowas, he sought to achieve peace in Guinea-Bissau in 1998, and he also mediated in Sierra Leone in 1999 and in Ivory Coast during the first year of the 21st century. Troopers from Togo have since participated in peacekeeping forces in the immediate area under Ecowas and the UN leadership, in recent years including Guinea-Bissau and Mali. Several West African collaborative bodies have their headquarters in Lomé.
Togo strives for a strong and modern defense. The selective military duty is two years. France has provided support to the Togolese military, including in the form of equipment and training of soldiers. The United States has provided training to both the police force and the military in connection with Togo’s participation in the UN force in Mali from 2013. Togo has also received US support to fight piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea. The fight has been successful, the pirate attacks have dropped to between zero and two a year since 2014.
FACTS – DEFENSE
Army: 8 100 men (2017)
The air Force: 250 men (2017)
The fleet: 200 men (2017)
Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.9 percent (2017)
Military spending’s share of the state budget: 6.3 percent (2017)