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The Togolese migrants - largest donors in Togo
by Samir Abi
30 January 2012

This article reviews the findings of a study we conducted in the last half of 2011 on remittances of Togolese migrants especially those living in Germany.

On the last ten years the migration is the social subject that has gained importance over the world. It has altogether economical, political and social and humanitarian implications and important consequences on the lives of millions of people on the planet. In 2006, in his inaugural address at the first High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, Mr Koffi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, said: “We are only beginning to learn how to make migration works more consistently for development”. Migration has significantly changed the political climate and the balance of the balance of payments in many South countries. Yet these countries still lack experience in how to integrate their diaspora for a better dynamic of endogenous development. This is the case of Togo.

The inclusion of migration in development issues in Togo is recent. Once considered a low migratory culture, Togo, for the last twenty years, sees a rapid growth of the number of its citizen living abroad. The 2010 census estimated the population residing in Togo at 5,753,324. According to various sources, between 1.5 million and 2 million Togoleses now reside abroad. This figure, if confirmed by the next census of Togolese from the outside that will be done by the Togolese State, would make the Diaspora the first “region” of Togo, as it would represent over 25% of the population living in Togo. Togolese migration occurred in three waves.

- The first wave was composed of new graduates sent to study, with scholarships, in universities in the West African sub-region, Europe and America. Indeed, at independence, the country lacked managers and had no universities for training. Unfortunately, in the early 80’s, response to the crisis of debt and due to structural adjustment, most of these Togolese students are forced to remain abroad to escape unemployment awaiting them at home since they could no longer claim to a position in the public service.

- The second wave was political. The democratization process in the early 90s led to a political crisis, which allowed many Togolese to receive political asylum in neighboring countries and European countries.

- The third wave of migration, more recent, is related to the quest for economical well-being. The low wages so the purchasing power of the Togolese population compared to the situation in other countries in the sub-region, and the economic crisis caused by the rupture of the Togolese cooperation with the European Union, the United States and international financial institutions have pushed the Togolese to migrate to other countries in order to put forward their expertise.

The Togolese Diaspora is found mainly in Africa (Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina, Benin), North America (U.S. and Canada) and finally in Europe (France, Spain, Germany, Belgium).

According to the Central Bank of the States of West Africa (BCEAO) – Togo, close to 855 billions CFA francs (1 billion 710 million US dollars) were transferred to Togo over the period 2000-2009 by the Togolese Diaspora. The study revealed the importance of these transfers in the Togolese economy. In particular, it showed that Togo is ranked second in Africa in the share of transfers of migrants to GDP. Indeed, this share went from 6.1% in 2005 to 8.1% in 2010. The amount of funds transferred is constantly increasing since the 2000s. The net volume of remittances of migrants has increased from 143 million USD in 2005 to 231 million USD in 2010. A comparison of the amounts remitted by Togolese migrants and budget support provided in Togo by developed countries based on years shows that, for five years, the total of money sent by Togolese migrants is 3 to 6 times higher than budget support granted toTogo as an aid by these developed countries.

This study also highlights the important role played by remittances from the Togolese Diaspora installed in African countries compared to those of the Togolese Diaspora living in Europe, as shown in the following table:

1 Togolese Diaspora in the U.S. 47.12 millions USD
2 Gabon 44.67 millions USD
3 Spain 29.96 millions USD
4 France 22.54 millions USD
5 Côte d’Ivoire 18.59 millions USD
6 Burkina 12.91 millions USD
7 Congo 8.45 millions USD
8 Germany 7.32 millions USD

Given these data, one can easily understand why the Togo should take better account of its Diaspora. The Togolese government has launched various programs in recent years to its migrant people to maximize their involvement in the development of the country. These programs have been consolidated by creating at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a Department of abroad Togolese who coordinates matters related to the Diaspora and resolves problems faced by migrants.

Indeed, and very sadly, while the recognition of the contribution of migrants to global development increases, the migrants are now more than ever the objects of repressive and discriminatory policies for electoral purposes in the host countries. The most regrettable is the policy of countries from South toward their own Diaspora. Playing the game of host countries, they sign agreements about management of migration flows with readmission clauses of migrants without any respect for human rights. Togo is one of these countries that have signed agreements on management of migration flows with France at the expense of these migrants that are nevertheless a considerable economic contribution. But the future of the Togolese Diaspora remains to be written. Time will tell.

Samir Abi