Togo Seeks Indian Investment in Infrastructure, Industry

By Shubha Singh 

New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) Togo, the African nation that is one of the world's largest producers of phosphate, is keen to attract more Indian investment, especially in infrastructure, agro-processing and the assembling industry. Home to a deep water port, it is also offering itself as a business gateway to West Africa.

"There is already some Indian investment in Togo and we are keen to attract more to give a boost to our economy," said Tchimsi Atchabao, advisor (Research and Development) at the Togo Free Zone.

A country of nearly seven million people, Togo is mainly dependent on agriculture.

Atchabao said some Indians have come to Togo and set up ventures to export flowers, medicinal plants and garlic. There was good scope for processing fruit juices for the European market too, she said.

Togo is looking at new crops such as fruits, vegetables and beans for processing and export.

"We are looking for investors for joint ventures, and we have a plan where the land could represent capital from the Togolese side," Atchabao told IANS during a visit to India.

Togo's phosphate mining industry is in a decline due to a fall in prices. India imports plastering material, lime and cement from Togo.

The Togolese government is also planning to develop land for planting "energy plants like jatropha and sugarcane."

But the key is in the industrial sector, she said.

A few Indian businessmen had set up assembling plants in Togo, but there was good scope for more investment, she said.

The assembling industry could produce refrigerators, televisions and fans that could then be exported to any of the 15 member countries of the Economic Community of West African Countries (ECOWAS), the Togolese official said.

The 15-country ECOWAS is an economic and trading union with a market of 350 million people.

Togo would also like to position itself as the main entrepot to West African countries.

"Lome is the only deep water port along the west coast and can accommodate third generation ships; cargo coming in to Lome can easily be moved to the hinterland countries," Atchabao said.

It is an important regional trading centre for transporting goods to the inland countries of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

Atchabao said several Indian entrepreneurs had shown interest in business opportunities in Togo. The government was offering incentives like duty free import of machinery and low duty on exports.

"We have had encouraging inquires from Indian businessmen," she said.

The Togolese government is concentrating on agriculture and agro-processing but also hopes to diversify in other sectors. Cocoa, coffee, and cotton form about 40 percent of Togo's export earnings, cotton being the most important cash crop.

The 2011-2012 plan focuses on financing infrastructure, boosting the production of phosphates and developing projects of public-private partnerships (PPP).


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