Local Activities I

Analysis of the situation: Togo

In the frame of Local Activ­i­ties I, each project organ­i­sa­tion had to analyse the sit­u­a­tion of young migrants and urban art in its coun­try. Here you have a sum­ma­ry of the text writ­ten by Sol’Oeil d’Afrik con­cern­ing the sit­u­a­tion of Togo.


Togo is a coun­try locat­ed in West Africa and it is one of the least pop­u­lat­ed coun­tries in the world. The migra­to­ry move­ments con­cern­ing Togo are notable both inter­nal­ly and exter­nal­ly. How­ev­er, dur­ing the era of French coloni­sa­tion, in line with the agri­cul­tur­al and labour poli­cies, migra­tion was restrict­ed because of the fear of emp­ty­ing the ter­ri­to­ry. After inde­pen­dence, migra­tion was not a major pub­lic con­cern and only in 1983 the first law on migra­tion was approved.
Accord­ing to data from the Direc­tion des Togo­lais de l’Ex­térieur (DTE), the Togolese dias­po­ra reach­es 1.5 to 2 mil­lion peo­ple, both men and women. In recent years, the des­ti­na­tions have diver­si­fied, prefer­ably towards African coun­tries (80%), main­ly to Ghana, Nige­ria, Ivory Coast and Benin, and to the Unit­ed States through the Green Card Lot­tery pro­gramme. This strong sub-region­al com­po­nent of migra­to­ry move­ments from Togo is a cen­tral fact that can be explained by the strong eco­nom­ic and com­mer­cial inter­de­pen­dence of these dif­fer­ent coun­tries and by a cer­tain eth­no­cul­tur­al prox­im­i­ty pre­vail­ing between Togo and its clos­est neigh­bours. Accord­ing to the sta­tis­tics, OECD coun­tries are less often the pre­ferred des­ti­na­tions for Togolese migrants.

Togo, and espe­cial­ly its cap­i­tal Lomé, is known for its cross-bor­der mobil­i­ty and tran­sit immi­gra­tion due to its geo­graph­i­cal posi­tion. “In terms of migra­tion, Togo, like many oth­er coun­tries, con­sti­tutes at the same time a coun­try of recep­tion, tran­sit and depar­ture of migrants.” (IOM, 2016, p. 18). How­ev­er, Togo is more an emi­grant-send­ing coun­try than an immi­grant-receiv­ing coun­try; indeed the migra­to­ry bal­ance is struc­tural­ly negative.

Con­cern­ing the Togolese legal frame­work, it is favourable to reg­u­lar immi­gra­tion and to free access of immi­grants to the labour mar­ket in the coun­try under the con­di­tions pre­scribed by nation­al and inter­na­tion­al laws. Most of immi­grant pop­u­la­tion in Togo is made up of nation­als of oth­er West African coun­tries (90%), main­ly from Benin, Niger, Ghana, Nige­ria, Burk­i­na Faso and Mali. These immi­grants, with low edu­ca­tion and qual­i­fi­ca­tions, most­ly work in the infor­mal sector.


Urban Art start­ed to appear in Togo in the 2000s and there are sev­er­al artists who prac­tice one of its ele­ments. The Law n. 2016-012 on the sta­tus of the artist, in arti­cle 2 states that the State recog­nis­es the right of access to art, to any per­son and in all legal­i­ty, what­ev­er the artis­tic field con­sid­ered, and the free­dom to any cit­i­zen to exer­cise any artis­tic pro­fes­sion, what­ev­er his main pro­fes­sion­al field. There are sev­er­al types of urban arts such as plas­tic arts, per­form­ing arts, cir­cus arts, street arts, pup­pet arts, visu­al arts, etc. that are recog­nised by the Togolese State.
The vast major­i­ty of the local scene is com­posed of self-taught artists, which is gen­er­al­ly not a choice but it is due to the lack of art schools in Togo. Some artists also have to leave the coun­try to improve their com­pe­tences and be trained in Sene­gal, Ivory Coast or Mali.
Nowa­days, urban art has evolved a lot in Togo and we can see that many young peo­ple are involved in break­dance, street art, graf­fi­ti, afro-urban dance, etc. Although most of these young peo­ple have learnt by doing and prac­tic­ing many hours, they have reached a pro­fes­sion­al lev­el that allows them to trav­el all over the world and per­form­ing in the dif­fer­ent events and exhi­bi­tions that are orga­nized in the country.