What Are The Major Natural Resources Of Togo?

By Joseph Kiprop on July 25 2019 in Economics

Fishing boats at the shore in Togo.
Fishing boats at the shore in Togo.

Togo is one of the smallest countries in Africa, and according to IMF, the country is among the poorest nations in the world and has been characterized by political instability and over-reliance on agriculture. In 2016, the country had a GDP of $4.39 billion, and in 2017 it had $4.767 billion making the country rank as the 156th, with the highest GDP in the world. The GDP per capita in 2017 was approximately $1,700. The economy of Togo has been struggling and in 2017 IMF extended credit facility which consisted of a three-year $238 million loan package.

Although Togo is a poor country, it has numerous natural resources found within the borders ranging from arable land, beautiful scenery, minerals, and forests among others.

Arable Land

According to CIA World Factbook, arable land in Togo accounted for 5.2% of the total land area following the estimates of 2011. The arable land is cultivated for a wide range of crops, and subsistence agriculture is the most dominant in the country. Some of the agricultural crops include cocoa, coffee, yams, cotton, cassava, beans, corn, rice, sorghum, and millet. Both cash crop and food crop production in the country employs a significant proportion of the country’s labor force and contributes about 42% of the country's GDP. Cocoa and coffee are the major cash crops in the country which is cultivated particularly for export. Cotton production increased significantly in the 1990s, and by 1999 the output of cotton in the country stood at 173,000 metric tons. In 2001 there was a decline in crop production in Togo and output stood at 113,000 metric tons and the following year there was a rebound in production reaching 168,000 metric tons. Most of the country does not receive sufficient rainfall; however, the country has managed to achieve self-food sufficiency. Most of the farms in the country as smallholders and the average farm size are about 1 to 3 hectares


Mining in Togo is centered on the extraction of phosphates and the country ranks as the 19th largest producer of the mineral. Other significant minerals produced in the country include limestone, gold, and diamond. There have been more exploration of other minerals, but production has not started, and these include iron ore, gypsum, bauxite, manganese, zinc, rutile, and marble


Phosphate is one of Togo’s most crucial minerals, and the country has approximately 60 million tons in reserves. The mineral is naturally found in rocks which contain a high concentration of phosphate minerals, and they are further classified into different types including triphylite, monazite, Hinsdalite, Vanadinite, and Erythrite. Phosphate mining is a major sector in the mining industry in Togo making the West African nation the 19th largest producer of the mineral in the world. Sedimentary phosphate is typically found as loose sediments and rocks in open pits and is therefore mined with dredge lines using machines or picks and shovels on a small scale operation. Togo’s output of phosphates contributed about 7.5 % of the total country’s export in 2013 and the output was about 1.2 million tons. There are several phosphate mines in different parts of the country, and the Ministry of Mines and Energy manages all the mining activities in the country.


Togo also has substantial limestone deposits, and most of the deposits are found just outside Lome, Togo’s capital. The limestone is mined from quarries which are excavated pits from which the rock is obtained, and it occurs on the surface and underground, a factor which influences the composition of the stone. In Togo limestone has been mined for years under auspices of the Ministry of Mines and the abundance of reserves has ensured a steady rate in annual production. The process of mining is carried out on site after which it is transported to factories in trucks, and the limestone is crushed or cut into blocks depending on the intended use. Togo uses most of its limestone produced in the construction industry especially in the production of cement and other construction materials including mortar and slaked lime.


There are no primary forests left in Togo. Most of the tropical areas in the country are utilized for subsistence where slashing and burning agriculture is practiced, together with fuelwood cutting. Mining in the country also has led to environmental degradation as well resulting in the loss of forests. Togo has six different geographical regions of climate in the country, which varies extensively from a tropical climate to savanna. As a result of the varying climate across the country, Togo at one time had a wide range of biodiversity which included 3,085 species of plants, 565 species of birds, 196 species of mammals, and 117 species of reptiles. As from 2000 to 2005 the country of Togo had the highest rates of deforestation in the world and from 1990 approximately 43.6% of the country's forests have been lost.

The Economy Of Togo

According to the World Bank, the economy of Togo decelerated in 2017, and it reflected political tension and fiscal consolidation in the country, which slowed to about 4.4% in comparison to 5.1% in 2016. Some of the economic drivers in the country include agriculture, which accounted for about 40% of the country's GDP and employs approximately 60% on the country's labor force. Poverty is still the main problem in Togo although it reduced slightly from 55.1% in 2015 to about 61.7% in 2016, and reduced further in 2017 to stand at 47.4%. Poverty in the country is most widespread in the rural areas where approximately 69% of the rural population lives below the poverty line as of 2015. Households headed by females had the highest rate of poverty incidences compared to the male-headed household. The country has an ambitious plan to achieve the millennium development goals by 2030 and by 2015 the country had only significant progress on six out of the eight millennium development goals, and World Bank has noted that the business climate is still a major challenge in the country.

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