Last updated in October 2018
Germany enjoys a very good reputation in all areas and is seen as a preferred partner. The people of Togo have mainly positive memories of the German colonial era (1884-1914). After political relations between the two countries cooled in the early 1990s as a result of serious democratic and human rights deficits in Togo, relations have improved again following political and economic reforms in recent years. German development cooperation with Togo was resumed in late 2012 after being suspended for nearly 20 years. Cooperation on training and further training measures for the Togolese military has also recommenced. Mutual high-level visits have intensified: Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé visited Germany in 2009 and again in June 2016. Germany’s Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Gerd Müller travelled to Togo in January 2016. During a visit to Togo by then German Bundestag Vice-President Johannes Singhammer in April 2016, a German-Togolese business summit was held.
The German Government is supporting the country’s democratisation, reconciliation and reform process. Togo is seeking to step up cooperation with Germany in all areas and is particularly keen to promote German investment in the country.
Togo is one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 166th out of 188 countries in the UNDP’s 2016 Human Development Index.
In December 2011, Germany’s then Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Dirk Niebel announced the resumption of bilateral development cooperation. Since then, Germany has cooperated with Togo in the following priority areas: decentralisation and good governance, rural development and agriculture, and vocational training and youth employment. At the last round of intergovernmental negotiations on development cooperation, which was held in Berlin in early June 2016, Germany pledged 54 million euros in assistance for a period of two years.
Germany is also engaged in Togo’s energy sector (e.g. in the West African Power Pool, including rehabilitation of the Nangbeto hydroelectric power plant), in the infrastructure sector (e.g. in the expansion of the Lomé bypass) as well as in environmental protection and biodiversity preservation.
During his visit to Togo in January 2016, Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Gerd Müller announced plans to expand development cooperation into new sectors (health and energy) and extend its regional scope. In 2017, cooperation was extended to northern Togo and work began in the two new sectors.
German organisations active in Togo include the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), church-affiliated relief agencies, the Senior Expert Service (SES) and political foundations. Of the German political foundations active in the country, the Hanns Seidel Foundation is based in Lomé, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Cotonou, Benin. A large number of private initiatives are engaged in humanitarian and social work in the country.
Since 1984, Germany has cancelled Togolese debts totalling approximately 183 million euros. The country’s remaining German debts – amounting to some 19.2 million euros – were cancelled in June 2011. There has been an upturn in economic relations following HeidelbergCement’s major investment in cement and brick production in Togo, worth 250 million US dollars.
Overall, economic relations between the two countries are modest. Since the resumption of development cooperation, however, German companies have shown a growing interest in investing in Togo. The Togolese Government is stepping up efforts to encourage German investment in the country. The Printemps de Coopération, an event showcasing German companies and aid organisations operating or interested in Togo, was held annually in April from 2015 to 2017.
The Goethe-Institut in Lomé has been active in Togo since 1961. It organises cultural programmes, offers German courses, runs a library and supports German teaching at schools and at the University of Lomé. German is taught at Togolese grammar schools as a compulsory elective subject and third foreign language, after French and English, and knowledge of German is remarkably widespread among the population. According to a 2015 survey, there are approximately 92,500 students learning German in Togo (84,000 of them at general secondary schools, 7000 at universities and 1500 participating in Goethe-Institut language courses). This means that the number of German learners has increased by 16,700 since 2010. Three schools in Togo participate in the Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH). There are some 1200 students enrolled at the University of Lomé’s German Department, where a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) lector and a DAAD assistant work. There are a number of partnerships between the University of Lomé and German universities, including Münster University of Applied Sciences, Zittau/Görlitz University of Applied Sciences, the University of Bayreuth, the University of Kassel and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. A comprehensive cooperation agreement between the University of Lomé and the University of Tübingen was signed in January 2012.
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