By Ron Chen, Senior Correspondent, ASEAN Region
On the occasion of the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF), an annual event organized by Bloomberg and gathering thousands of participants from June 20 to 22, the President of the Togolese Republic, H.E. Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, participated in a session focused on the socio-economic, security and industrial context of the West African States, entitled “In Conversation with President Gnassingbe”.
This second edition of the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF), an event organized by Bloomberg from June 20 to 22 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Doha, focused on the theme of a balanced global economic recovery. The panel session featuring H.E. Faure EssozimnaGnassingbe, entitled “In Conversation with President Gnassingbe”, focused on Togo’s socio-economic context, the progress made in development despite the health crisis, but also the concerns raised by inflation and insecurity.
“The first issue that we do have, as you know, is the consequences of the succession of the crisis with the rising cost of living for our population. I’m talking about Togo, but it can be extended to West Africa and the second one is the issue of security that we are facing in West Africa” he recalled as an introduction. « It [the security issue] started with what happened in Libya in 2011 and it continued in Mali in 2012, Burkina Faso in 2016. In the meantime, it was in Nigeria and Niger, now it’s threatening what we call the coastal countries meaning Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Togo and Benin” explained Faure EssozimnaGnassingbe.
However, given the COVID-19 pandemic, Togo has coordinated its response measures by supporting the most vulnerable and fragile populations. It was also an opportunity to specify measures to fight inflation and to recall Togo’s competitive advantages, its attractiveness – notably through the Autonomous Port of Lomé – as well as the need to develop value chains in West Africa, a crucial step towards the industrialization of the continent: “[The regional context of insecurity] is also impeding our efforts to attract investors because the perception of the risk is higher, so the cost of investment is also higher. But we think that today, with the trend of the economy and the disruption of the supply chains in our countries, we have a chance, to build integrated industries – like textile.”
“Today, we can extend value chains in our countries; [in textile] from the cotton seeds to the final product; and we are even closer to European and the US ports and markets” also said the Togolese President.
The Forum, which was held in a hybrid format – face-to-face and by videoconference – brought together 11 state representatives, political decision-makers and senior government officials, international organizations, companies and experts from over 120 countries.