文｜阿毕纳·耐希当（ABINA NESITANG） 多哥共和国驻华使馆临时代办 翻译｜张慧雯
Why China should expand investment in Togo
By H.E. ABINA NESITANG Chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of the Republic of Togo in China
Africa, for the last two decades, has witnessed unprecedented increase of Chinese investments, that the Asian giant overtakes Europe and North America as Africa's largest trade partner.
China is not only Africa's important economic partner, but also actively involved in developing the continent. Through Chinese supports, Africa is impressively addressing the infrastructural challenges, which, for years, had been hindering its industrialization. Thanks to the plethora of economic agreements between both sides as well as the political stability and improved business climate in Africa, the continent is now a choiced destination for Chinese investors.
Togo investment advantage
As one of the investment destinations in Africa, Togo, a country on the west coast of Africa, offers great opportunities for investors. The country is endowed with enormous natural resources. It owns offshore oil, marble, attapulgites, manganese, limestone, iron, peat, gold, uranium, and above all, a very important phosphate deposit which represents more than 40% export earnings.
Surrounded by three countries, Benin in the east, Ghana in the west, Burkina Faso in the north and the Gulf of Guinea in the south, Togo has an area of 56,786 thousand square kilometers, with a length of over 600 kilometers from north to south, a width of between 50 and 150 kilometers from east to west and a coastline of 56 kilometers long.
In 2016, its population was approximately 7.6 million. Though the official language is French, a sizeable number of people (especially the educated) are fluent in English. The GDP in 2016 was 2609.2 billion FCFA. It is projected to reach 5.0% in 2019 and 5.3% in 2020.
With regard to investments, the Togolese Government is sparing no effort to fix infrastructural deficits. It's also offering unlimited possibilities for multidimensional cooperation in terms of capacity, and a low-cost, intensive and skilled workforce with great potential for reducing production costs.
Togo could be considered today as the destination for the world market with its favorable bilateral and multilateral relations with multiple economic entities in Europe, America, Asia and Africa.
The country has the third largest international airport in West Africa, Lomé Gnassingbe Eyadema International Airport and a natural harbor in deep water. The port of Lome not only processes more than 90% of Togo's imports and exports, but also re-exports about 1/5 of its imports to other West African countries – of which 50% is exported to Burkina Faso, Mali 13%, Niger 11% and 26% to Benin, Ghana and Nigeria.
Togo is known as the only deepwater port in the West Africa. It has three terminals capable of meeting the requirements of the latest generation of large freighters and technical equipment. This makes the country a leading logistics, distribution and business center in the sub-region.
The West African nation also boasts of the presence of leading financial institutions in Africa, including Ecobank, Orabank, West Africa Development Bank, Ecowas Bank for Investments and development.
Togo’s national development planning
Since 1983, the government has launched the economic structural adjustment plan by adopting free economic policies, giving priority to agricultural development and vigorously supporting SMEs.
In 1989, Togo created the Lomé export processing zone to attract foreign investment. In no time, Western companies were encouraged to buy or manage, through franchises, local port handling services and other logistics and hospitality activities.
In 2011, Togo continued the reorganization of public finances and the implementation of economic revitalization strategies, while maintaining a stable functioning of the macro-economy based on strict financial policies. New Free Trade Zone Laws were approved in June of the same year.In January 2012, the revised Investment Law was approved. This is the first fiscal year of Togo after its debt relief. Following the principle of implementing strict financial policies, the government has continued to deepen the reforms.
Thereby, to address the development challenges, the Togolese government has formulated, and vigorously implementing a four-year (2018-2022) National Development Plan, focusing on the establishment of high-quality logistics and business hubs, as well as the construction of processing centers for agricultural products and solid minerals. It aims to guide the development of the private sector, an important business segment with many job opportunities, to accelerate economic growth.
According to the Togolese authorities, Togo's National Development Plan is practical, achievable and will contribute to the country's rapid development.
Among the major projects that favor investments in the country are the railway of the South-North African economic corridor connecting Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo and the highway of Abidjan-Lagos corridor, 1,028 km long linking Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.
Both countries enjoy friendly cooperation in different areas since establishing diplomatic ties decades ago. The city of Shenzhen and Togo – Lomé and Shenzhen Sha Tau Kok free trade zones – inked a friendship deal in 1996.
In its cooperation with China, the Togolese government has a plan focused on the establishment of high-quality logistics and business hubs, as well as on the construction of treatment centers and agricultural products manufacturing and industry To this must be added agricultural development and cooperation in the field of education. Today, with the Chinese advance in the field of new technologies, Togo can benefit from Chinese support for training and construction of school and university infrastructure.
Since 2009, University of Lome's Confucius Institute has been offering Chinese language course. Chinese health officials are also offering medical services in Togo.
On 9 November, Chinese Ambassador to Togo Chao Weidong, after a meeting with the Togolese Parliament, said that "in the current state of affairs, the friendship relationship between China and Togo are marked by trust, fruitful cooperation and diversified exchanges ".
In 2016, according to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce, nearly a hundred Chinese-funded companies, including China Airport Construction Corporation, Weihai International, CBRC, Huawei and Bell Shanghai, have been active in a number of areas in Togo.
That's not all. Under Sino-Togolese cooperation, large number of major projects such as the Kara Congress Center, the Anier Sugar joint venture, the Lomé stadium, the presidential palace, the Lomé hospital and well drilling are being executed by Chinese firms.
Like most African states, the cooperation between the Republic of Togo and the People's Republic of China is on a solid track. Togo needs the Chinese experience to boost its economy in a win-win partnership. Thus, the Togolese market is open to foreign investment, especially to Chinese entrepreneurs in a dynamic and beneficial cooperation for all. Today, agriculture, health, education, road infrastructure are areas in which Chinese companies can invest without any risk because Togo has a very flexible tax system. Some companies may be tax-free for a good period to facilitate their investments.
In Togo, it is also possible to find a qualified and available workforce allowing companies operating in Togo to find workers in the different sectors. Another advantage for companies wishing to invest in Togo is that most Togolese speak both English and French.
What are Togo's expectations in its cooperation with China?
As mentioned above, Togo looks forward to its cooperation with the People's Republic of China. With its flexible tax regime and favorable to the creation of businesses, Togo relies on China to make its contribution to the National Development Plan (PND) 2018-2022. In September of last year, Togo organized a business forum in Hangzou, China. During this forum, the country presented five major structuring projects of the new NDP in the targeted areas of logistics, agri-food, industry and energy.
Today, there are thousands of Chinese and foreigners in Togo, thanks to the country's openness to foreign investments and Togolese hospitality.
文 | 阿毕纳·耐希当（ABINA NESITANG）
编辑 | 张梅