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Living in Togo
A practical guide to the way of life in Togo
Togo is a small country in the west of Africa that is fast becoming a more appealing prospect for expats. Togo acts as a regional commercial and trade center for the West Africa region and economic reform measures have helped to attract more foreign investment as well as expats planning a life in Togo.
Life in Togo
Urban development in Lomé and Kpalime, as well as the growth of the mining sector, provide opportunities for expats considering life in Togo. Occupying just 57,000 square kilometers in total, Togo is a narrow strip of land with a mild climate and an economy that depends heavily on agriculture.
Healthcare in Togo
All healthcare services are free in Togo apart from at a major clinic in the country’s capital city, Lomé, where a nominal fee may be charged. There are permanent treatment centers and also a mobile organization for preventive medicine; the Mobile Service for Hygiene and Preventive Medicine, which carries out inoculations and provides education in hygiene.
Access to healthcare services is not good in much of Togo, with a lot of the country’s population living out of reach of care. Female genital mutilation is also a major problem, and around three per cent of the nation’s adult population are thought to be living with HIV/AIDS.
Togo has played a leading role in the fight against the Ebola outbreak, with the country’s position as a regional center in West Africa enabling it to coordinate efforts to fight the deadly disease.
Expats should ensure they have good healthcare insurance provision when living in Togo. It is also advised to regard all water as a potential health risk and ensure it is boiled before using it.
Transportation in Togo
The quality of roads in Togo is good compared to a lot of Africa, but expats must remember this is a developing country and temper their expectations of Togo’s roads infrastructure as a result. Taxis are available, but expats should agree on a fare before getting in and demand that their ride is not shared with any extra passengers for safety reasons.
A major route is the Trans-West African Coastal Highway, which crosses Togo and connects the country to Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in the west and Benin and Nigeria to the east. There are plans for the road to be continued on to seven other West African countries. There is also a paved highway that runs through the north of Togo, linking it to Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.
Togo has just two airports with paved runways, Niamtougou International Airport and Lomé-Tokoin Airport. The latter, which is also known as Gnassingbé Eyadéma International Airport, allows expats to travel to destinations across Africa, as well as to Paris in France.
Safety and Security in Togo
Violent crime, theft, and pick-pocketing can be common throughout Togo, and in the capital city Lomé expats may be targets for criminal activity as they are often perceived to be rich. Many local criminals carry weapons such as knives or machetes, and the use of locally-made firearms is also increasing.
Carjackings have been known to take place, sometimes in the form of a staged accident, so expats in Togo should always be on their guard whenever they are traveling. ID should always be carried as checks can regularly be carried out, especially at borders. Roadblocks — both official and unofficial — sometimes bring traffic to a standstill. Unpaved roads may become impassable during Togo’s rainy seasons. Roads are sometimes badly lit and poorly maintained, making the risk of accidents quite high, especially at night.
Although swimming in the ocean at Lomé can be a very appealing option, currents are very strong in this part of the world and there are sadly many drownings off Togo each year.
In terms of health, shots such as the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine and polio vaccine should be taken before traveling to Togo.
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