Our 2 Cents on "Togo"
Recently, our family decided to pay a visit to Lomé, Togo. Togo was never a place we considered moving too. However, after our visit to Ghana is seemed like the next moved would be to visit Ghana’s French speaking neighbor. Visiting a place is no way indicative of living in that place. Thus, our visit to Togo was one which we knew we would not be able to provide much insight on what life is like in Togo from a residence’s point of view. However, we used our time wisely and we acquired as much information as we could.
When were arrived at the Ghana/Togo border, we were met with a warm welcome. The Togolese people are very helpful and friendly. People were patience with us and tried to help us overcome the language barrier. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a contact in Togo when we first arrived so we spent the first day trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. If we would have left it up to DJ, we would have ridden motorbikes all days and for the entire trip. On our second day in Togo we me a cool cab driver who took under his wing and helped us to get a phone/internet services, find some food, and a really nice beach to be bums on. I would have to say that the Togolese people were definitely the best part of the country. There is nothing like meeting goodhearted people who care about other people!
One of the most interesting and educational parts of our
visit to Togo was visiting “Togoville.” Togoville is a small town on the northern
shore of Lake Togo. The country took the name “Togo” from the small town in
1884. During our visit, we had the chance to meet the secretary of village
King. He gave us some of the history about “Togoville” and then we set out on a
tour of the island. We went to the town market where they still use the barter
system amongst the vendors. We also learned a lot about the history and practices
of “Voodoo” which was extremely interesting. From what we understand 75% of the
population still practice “Voodoo” while the remainder are Catholic or
Christian. After leaving Togoville we had two more stops back on the main land.
The first stop was to “Maison Des
Esclaves.” This was one of the holding places for slaves which was built by the
French. Unfortunately, slavery is a part
of the history of most west African countries so it wasn’t surprising to see
such a place. This was followed up by a visit to a well near the beach which
was given the name “The Last Bath.” It was the place where the slaves were washed
before being loaded onto ships heading to their final destinations. This was by
far the most emotional part of the trip for us but we appreciate the experience.
|Our host "Mama Aimee" in Togo, Lome|
|House where French held slaves outside of Lome, Togo before shipping them to the West.|
|Barter Market in Togoville.|
|Brother Macklann and his family welcoming us into their home.|
Here are a few things you may want to know about Togo:
Transportation: Lomé is a bustling little city. It is easy to get around via motorbikes, taxis, or on the bus system. We were only there a week and did not take the bus system. However, the cheapest form of transportation was motorbikes costing around 200 to 400 CFA which equates to approximately 30 to 60 cent USD. Most Togolese people take this as the main form of transportation as they outnumber taxis significantly. Buy a helmet if you take the motorbikes because you don’t get one from the driver and they can be a little dangerous. If you prefer a taxi, hiring a taxi driver for a day cost about 12,000 CFA ($19 USD) on the low end or 15,000 CFA ($24 USD) for a cab with AC.
Property: From our conversations with the Togolese people, we were able to find out that there is a high demand for purchasing property in Togo’s capital. Our eyeballs widen when we were told that to buy land within the city of Lomé, you had to be prepared to give up well over $100k USD per plot. With those type of funds you could get you a beach front property, but we also found out there is little to no land left in the city of Lomé. The Europeans are already buying up everything in the small town because from what we are told one day Lomé will be like South Beach in Miami. If you still want to purchase property but don’t have $100k to do so you can purchase land a little further inland for around $20,000 USD per plot. Or you can go into the villages and pay approximately $200 or $300 USD per plot. The latter sounds a lot better financially, but of course it depends on what type of lifestyle you are looking to have. Land cannot be purchased outright by foreigners. It can be leased for a number of years or placed in the name of a Togolese person on your behalf.
Immigration: American citizens can reside in Togo. You have to register with the Passport Office, provide them with your local information and updates if there are changes, and pay the required fee for the visa you desire to have. But it is best to have a local contact to aid in the process.
Opportunities: There are plenty of business opportunities to look into in Togo. However, getting into business in Togo is restrictive and you must have a Togolese person working on your behalf. There is little to nothing to do for singles or families. Togo doesn’t even have a mall. We did find a small arcade for Dj to play in, a park, and went to the beach. Therefore, entertainment based businesses seems like a great place to start. We also learned that Togo is the second leading phosphate producer in the world and only trades with European countries, however, they make very little profit from these deals. Additionally, Togo has a free port, meaning importing and exporting could be worthwhile.
Sanitation: Although, the buildings are old and look forgotten, the city is very clean and neatly organized. As we drove around in Lomé and up to Kpalime, we noticed that the trash and sanitation was well managed. The city employs street sweepers (not the machines, but people) to sweep the streets every day. It appeared that the people took much pride in ensuring their city was well taken care of.
Although, we were only there a week, Togo was better than we expected. It was quiet, laid back, and had an overall good vibe. The price of purchasing land was not appealing, but the country definitely has potential be a paradise under the right leadership. If you are ever visiting Ghana and have some time on your hands we suggest paying a Visit. We believe most people will be pleasantly surprised with what you find in this small yet beautiful country! Until next time...