Q: What was the catalyst behind Togo’s improvement in business climate and FDI attraction?
A: Political commitment, pragmatism and leadership from the top authorities in the country are the catalysts for these reforms. Our country is resolutely committed to enacting a series of reforms. The objective is to make the business environment more attractive, mobilise more investment and achieve strong economic growth over the medium term.
Q: What are the main objectives for your fourth consecutive term?
A: We approach this mandate with great [feeling of opportunity], humility and a sense of responsibility. This new term is about consolidating our accomplishments. First, to ensure peace and security: our region is experiencing a particularly volatile and sensitive security situation. We have a responsibility to protect the population. The emergence of the coronavirus health crisis is yet another reminder of our obligation to be constantly vigilant and combine preventive and defensive measures.
Second, we are going to implement a more open and inclusive governance structure. It requires [that we] set up mechanisms that facilitate the greater involvement of everyone in the decision-making [process]. This, I am convinced, will strengthen accountability and empower the population to follow up on the decisions that are taken.
The third objective is to maintain wealth production by speeding up the development of high-potential sectors aligned with the national development plan 2018-2022. This includes the continuation of major infrastructure projects such as modernising our port and building a trunk highway between the north and south of the country.
We will also enhance access to basic social services for our population, especially the most vulnerable. Consequently, we will continue to implement our strategy of universal access to energy and set up specific strategies for universal access to water and sanitation.
Last, we will bring public services closer to the people through digital technology and facilitating access to several administrative processes. For example, completely free registration fees for examinations and free birth certificates relying on our biometric identity system for the entire population.
We must ensure high-quality health and education for all. This last objective is essential to me because human capital is our country's most valuable asset.
Q: What else has been implemented to attract further investment to Togo?
A: Our country recently adopted a new investment code that offers significant advantages to economic operators, guaranteeing, for example, exemptions from duties, taxes and indirect taxes. We are firmly resolved to make the private sector the key player and the driving force of our economy through [paying it close attention] and [demonstrating] agility in managing our partnerships.
Still, it has to be noted that our country is not in competition with its neighbours, but would rather work closely with them to make the west African region a dynamic and vibrant place to invest and do business. Togo remains dedicated to the rapid integration of Africa into a robust and vibrant continental economy.
Q: How have you responded to the Covid-19 pandemic?
A: The first case in Togo was recorded on March 6. Since then, the number of cases, despite our efforts, has been increasing each day. We have taken measures to restrict access to our country to travellers from high-risk areas and have implemented measures to manage potential cases of illness. All medical services have been mobilised to monitor and isolate people who have had contact with positive cases for the purpose of slowing down the spread of the virus.
In addition to these [and other] measures, we are rolling out a cash transfer scheme called 'Novissi' [which translates as 'solidarity' in the local dialect] to provide financial aid to informal workers whose daily revenues have been seriously disrupted or lost due to the emergency measures we have taken to stop the spread of the virus.
All of these actions are accompanied by public education campaigns that are [educating] the populace on appropriate sanitary guidelines to follow to protect themselves and families from Covid-19.
Collaboration is key to us successfully fighting Covid-19. My government is in frequent contact with neighbouring countries to share information on any detected cases that involve their citizens. We have, as a people and as a country, to show great unity and solidarity to rise to the challenge of safeguarding our future.