Togo Country Report
Travel to the small West African country of Togo (population 7 million) should not pose any problems for travelers due to calm security conditions.
Travelers should be aware of the crime-related risks they could face while in Togo, especially in Lome. Simple precautions should be followed: do not carry any valuables or large sums of money with you, and do not resist in case of an aggression.
The majority of reported incidents involve petty crime (pickpocketing, bag snatching, etc.), but armed violence is increasing. The use of knives, machetes, and guns is growing, and usually perpetrated by transnational criminal gangs. Travelers and foreign businessmen are particularly targeted due to their presumed affluence. It is advised to be extremely cautious along beaches, along the Mono Boulevard, as well as in markets, especially in the Grand Marché. The risk is higher during the night, and as such, it is recommended not to walk or drive a motorcycle after dark.
Home invasions and carjackings also occur, particularly at night. Increased vigilance must be adopted when returning home; extortions under the threats of knives have been reported.
Likewise, American authorities recommend caution regarding the risk of kidnapping and advise their nationals to be discreet (social networks), to protect their personal information, and to use reliable means of transportation.
In addition, cybercrime is on the rise throughout the country. This is manifested by phishing opera-tions (identity theft by accessing emails), or by financial scams: with online chats (feelings scam), or by a request for money (in a commercial setting or an alleged distress) from an individual "met" on the internet who appears to come from an administration. It is formally advised not to pay the requested sum and warn diplomatic authorities. These scams can cause significant financial risks for the victims.
Finally, due to the risk of piracy, prevalent in the Gulf of Guinea, boating is strictly not recommended off the Togolese coasts, despite a reinforced safety device.
Togo is home to a dynamic political scene, including a strong opposition, which, united under the CAP 2015 coalition ("Struggle for Peaceful Change in 2015"), organized several demonstrations, such as the ones in May, June, and August 2016 calling for institutional reforms promised by the President during the electoral campaign of 2015. It is advisable to avoid the northeastern part of Bé and Deckon in Lome - traditional places where the opposition gather before a demonstration.
Faure Gnassingbé is the head of the country since 2005, and despite the opposition's objections, ran for re-election in 2015, defeating the opposition candidate Jean-Pierre Fabre, leader of the CAP 2015.
French authorities recommend against taking part in debates or political conversations, and instead maintaining discreet and neutral behavior.
Protests of a social nature that can occasionally become violent are also to be anticipated in the country. As a precaution, it is advisable to be aware of the political situation evolution and remain apart from any gathering.
The terrorist threat is low. However, West Africa having been the victim of various attacks (Ivory Coast , Mali , Burkina Faso , etc.), travelers should be cautious, especially in popular tourist locations (luxury hotels, restaurants, cafés and resorts, etc.). United Kingdom diplomatic authorities consider that the global terrorist threat against UK citizens and interests is to be high and rising notably due to their involvement in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
The country - with the exception of Lome - suffers from unreliable, inadequate and degraded road infrastructure. During the rainy season (in the North from May to October ; in the South from March to July and from September to October) roads are generally unreliable.
Long-distance road travel can be extremely dangerous. Bandits are active on the roads, and are always armed and potentially violent. Carjackings are frequent throughout Togo road axes. It is advised to drive with doors locked and windows rolled up. Outside major cities, all travels must be done during the day, with an all-terrain vehicle (4x4), possibly in convoy, equipped with adequate supplies of water, food and fuel ; fuel supply is ensured in major cities, but may be difficult outside major cities, especially in the North. Travelers should also ensure that the vehicle contains mechanical spare parts (wheels, cables, etc.) and that they have effective means of telecommunication.
Travels to the border with Ghana must be avoided.
In Lome, public transport methods - including the famous "moped-taxis" locally called "Zem", "Zemidjans", or "kekenons" - are questionable because of their inconsistent levels of safety. While the French authorities recommend wearing a helmet, US authorities formally advise their nationals against utilizing this mode of transportation.
Finally, due to the risk of piracy, which is prevalent in the Gulf of Guinea, boating is strictly not recommended off the Togolese coasts, despite a reinforced safety device.
Prior to departure, foreign nationals should purchase a health insurance plan covering overseas care and medical repatriation, the latter being mandatory in case of a significant or urgent health issue.
A certificate of immunization against yellow fever is mandatory to enter the country for all travelers over nine months of age. Cases of Lassa fever have been reported in the country. An antiviral is available for Lassa fever but remains very unsuitable to the situation on the ground. Malaria is endemic throughout the country, and it is recommended to take individual protections measures against mosquito-bites and suitable treatment. Over one million cases of malaria have been reported between 2014 and 2015.
Bird flu has been identified in the territory, and travelers should avoid contact with poultry and birds (i.e. visiting farms or volatile markets).
Tap water is not drinkable. Diarrheal diseases are frequent in the country. It is recommended to only drink filtered bottled water, to make sure food is properly cooked, and to wash hands several times a day.
To avoid any risk of parasitic infection, it is advised to avoid bathing, or washing clothes in stagnant waters. It is not advised to walk barefoot.
Moreover, it is necessary to take precautions against HIV/AIDS, which is highly prevalent throughout the country.
Meanwhile, vaccination against meningitis is recommended as numerous cases of this disease are reported in the country. The risk of meningitis is particularly high in Togo as the country is located in the "meningitis belt". Cases are often reported during hot season (November to April in the North; November to February in the South).
Finally, public health infrastructures are weak; in case of an emergency, it is advised to head for private health facilities, while favoring repatriation as soon as possible.
Ocean currents are very strong, and many cases of drowning have been reported. Particular vigilance is required when swimming.
Flooding is recurrent during the rainy season (November to April in the North; November to February in the South). Due to the lack of adequate water drainage infrastructures, torrential rains are particularly devastating for the country's population, environment, infrastructure, and economy.
Homosexuality is illegal and punishable by a fine or imprisonment.
Offenses such as absconding without payment, hotel deceits, and/or charges of all kinds are liable to prosecution.
It is forbidden to photograph official buildings such as government or military buildings, including the airport.
Only "VISA" bank cards can be used for cash withdrawals or payments.
French or international driving licenses are accepted for stays not exceeding three months. Beyond, travelers should apply for the issue of a Togolese driving license (cost: 15 000 FCFA).
The rainy season lasts from April to October in the south of the country and from April to June in the north. Between mid-September and mid-October there is a second, shorter rainy season. The rest of the year the weather is dry although days are often cloudy, particularly when the Harmattan, a desert wind, passes through the country. The central regions of Togo are cooler, especially around Mount Klouto.
Useful NumbersCountry Code: +228 Police: 117 Fire Dept.: 118
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz
Togo: Opposition agrees to suspend protests February 21 /update 2
TIMEFRAME: from 2/21/2018, 12:00 AM until 3/1/2018, 11:59 PM (Africa/Lome).
Togo: Dialogue between government and opposition starts Feb. 19 /update 1
TIMEFRAME: from 2/19/2018, 12:00 AM until 3/1/2018, 11:59 PM (Africa/Lome).