Togo Shuts Churches, Mosques As COVID-19 Cases Surge

(ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSE ONLY) A healthcare worker administers a SINOVAC Covid-19 vaccine on a minor during the Numolux/SINOVAC Paediatric Covid-19 Vaccine Clinical Trial at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Pretoria, on September 10, 2021.  (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP)

 

 

Togo’s government has ordered all places of worship to shut down for one month starting on Friday, following a “worrying upsurge” in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. 

The West African nation of about eight million people has recorded just over 23,000 cases and 203 deaths but the true tally could be higher given low testing rates.

“The number of deaths keeps increasing,” Didier Koumavi Ekouevi, president of the country’s scientific council said on Wednesday.

“In June, we had four deaths, in July 22 and in August 33. We are recording four times more patients.”

From Friday, weddings and funerals are banned, as well as cultural, sporting and political events, the government said.

Bars and nightclubs have also been ordered to temporarily close.

The authorities warned that sanctions would apply to those who violate the new measures.

“Due to a worrying upsurge of Covid-19 cases in our country… the government would like to issue a reminder that restrictive measures are still in place,” it said in a statement on Thursday.

Togo’s borders have been shut since March 2020.

There are currently more than 4,800 active cases in Togo and officials warned hospitals are overwhelmed.

The largest treatment centre in the capital Lome has a capacity of 200 with 30 in intensive care.

“Currently it’s one in, one out, even for those who have serious symptoms,” said Ekouevi.

Most new cases, he added, are people who are not vaccinated.

Togo has so far received about 1.6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

Nine Jailed In First Togo Pirate Trial

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

Nine pirates who attempted to hijack a ship in Togolese waters in May 2019 have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 12 to 20 years during a trial at a Lome court.

It was the first time pirates have been tried in Togo, one of the West African countries with coastline on the Gulf of Guinea, a major trading route which now accounts for most of the world’s abductions of commercial crew by pirates.

A total of 10 pirates, including seven Nigerians, two Togolese and one Ghanaian, went on trial for “maritime piracy, wilful violence and groups of criminals”.

The Ghanian, who is on the run and facing an international arrest warrant, was sentenced on Monday night to 20 years in prison. One Togolese national was acquitted while the other eight pirates were given sentences from 12 to 15 years.

The group were accused of attacking the tanker G-DONA 1 during the night of May 11, 2019.

“People should understand that piracy and armed robbery at sea will be punished. And for these sea offenses, we will be uncompromising,” prosecutor Kodjo Gnambi Garba told reporters.

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Pirate attacks in the Gulf are mainly carried out by gangs from southeastern Nigeria who speed out in boats to raid commercial vessels offshore to kidnap their crew for ransom.

The Gulf of Guinea, which stretches along 5,700 kilometres (3,500 miles) of coastline, accounted for 130 of the 135 kidnappings of seafarers recorded worldwide last year, according to a recent report by the International Maritime Bureau.

A group of shippers and trade companies in the international maritime sector in May signed a declaration calling for the creation of a coalition to put an end to piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

AFP

Togo Launches West Africa’s Largest Solar Plant

File PHOTO: ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

Togo has inaugurated the largest solar plant in West Africa, in a push to increase access to electricity and develop renewables in the small coastal country.

The 50 megawatt facility, located in central Togo, will provide power to more than 158,000 households and save more than one million tonnes of CO2 emissions, Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe said on Twitter late Tuesday.

“This project is the fruit of our ambition to bring universal access to electricity and provide clean and renewable energy to all.”

“I am thrilled it was done in record time” (18 months), he added.

The plant was built in Blitta, 267 kilometres (165 miles) north of the capital Lome, by AMEA Togo Solar, a subsidiary of Dubai-based AMEA Power.

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It hosts 127,344 solar panels expected to produce 90.255 megawatt hours (MWh) of power per year.

Named after the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the project received more than 35 billion CFA francs ($63.7 million) in loans from the West African Development Bank and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.

Capacity for an additional 20 MW is scheduled to be built on the same site by the end of the year.

AMEA Togo Solar will be able to exploit the plant for 25 years.

Togo, which imports more than half of its energy from Nigeria and Ghana, is banking on solar power to develop access to electricity for its eight million residents.

AFP

Golden Eaglets Depart Nigeria For WAFU B U-17 Tournament

File photo of the Golden Eaglets departing Nigeria for Lome ahead of the West African Football Union (WAFU B) U17 Tournament taking place in Lome, Togo on January 5, 2021.

 

Nigeria’s U-17 team, the Golden Eaglets have left the country for the West African Football Union (WAFU B) U17 Tournament taking place in Lome, Togo from 5th  – 20th January 2021.

The five-time world champions Nigeria and three-time world champions Ghana will headline the seven-team that will feature at the competition which serves as a qualifying process for this year’s CAF U17 Cup of Nations taking place in Morocco.

Pedigree, pride and career aspiration aside, the Eaglets are sure to derive some kind of vicarious motivation from the below-par outing of the Nigeria U20 Boys at the WAFU B U20 Tournament in Benin Republic last month.

Nigeria conquered the world in 1985, 1993, 2007, 2013 and 2015, and alongside Ghana have dominated cadet football on the African continent, with Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal to be reckoned with as well on the basis of investment and focus on youth development.

The Eaglets’ first encounter in Lome will be against the Ivorians, at the Stade Municipal on Wednesday from 4pm, and should serve as a pointer to how much the Eaglets are keen to conquer Africa again.

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On Saturday at the same venue, they clash with Ghana’s Black Starlets in a potentially explosive encounter between two teams with eight world titles between them.

Hosts Togo will open the two-week tournament against the Niger Republic at the Stade Kegue on Tuesday, hours before Group A’s other teams the Benin Republic and Burkina Faso clash at the same venue. Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire make up the three-team Group B.

GOLDEN EAGLETS TEAM FOR WAFU TOURNEY

Goalkeepers: Destiny Emuwahen; Abdulbasit Abbas: Saheed Jimoh

Defenders: Victor Udoh; Joseph Kuteyi; Chukwuemeka Egbu; Philip Titiloye; Oludapo Akintola; Emmanuel John

Midfielders: Benjamin Mustapha; Oluwatomiwa Kolawole; Rabiu Ahmed; Samuel Akere; Vince Osuji; Haruna Hassan

Wingers/Forwards: Michael Emmanuel; Gideon Atoyebi; Samson Ogunmola; Christian Nwachukwu; Peter Asuquo; Basheet Hamzat; Ahmed Abdullahi; Abdullahi Bewene; Joseph Arumala, Stanley Iheanacho

Togo Appoints Its First Woman Prime Minister

 

Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe on Monday named the first-ever female prime minister to head the government in the West African nation.

Victoire Tomegah Dogbe, 60, replaces Komi Selom Klassou, who resigned on Friday.

A close ally of the president, she has served as his chief-of-staff since 2009.

Togo had been due for a government reshuffle since Gnassingbe was reelected in February for a fourth term in office, but the changes were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The president’s election win, which came after a constitutional change allowing him to run, extended more than a half-century of dynastic rule by the Gnassingbe family over the former French colony.

The victory was disputed by the main opposition challenger, who has faced official harassment in the wake of the vote.

The president has led the country of eight million people since taking over in 2005 following the death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled for 38 years.

Togo’s economy has been hit by the pandemic as the authorities have imposed restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.

AFP

One Killed As Togo Police Clear Crowd Defying COVID-19 Curbs

 

One man died and 17 other people were injured in northern Togo in clashes between police and a crowd holding a traditional ceremony in defiance of coronavirus restrictions, the government said.

The incident occurred when residents of Niamtougou and Koka were taking part in a traditional “Kondona” celebration — an initiation ceremony for young men — on Saturday, though such gatherings have been banned because of the pandemic.

“After the crowd was dispersed, some of them came back and put up barricades in order to continue the celebrations,” security minister Yark Damehame said in a statement on Sunday, adding that 3,000 people were present.

“A tear gas bomb fatally struck an old man who was immediately evacuated to an infirmary where he later died,” the minister said.

Damehame said 13 policemen enforcing anti-virus regulations were among the wounded after “they were attacked by an angry mob”.

Two vehicles and a house were burnt down in the clashes, he added.

Witnesses told AFP by phone that the man who died was killed by bullets — a claim that could not be immediately verified.

“The police was really violent. In addition to the tear gas, they fired actual bullets,” said a resident, who asked to remain anonymous.

Most gatherings are banned by the Togolese government that extended a state of health emergency on September 16. The latest official figures indicate 1,743 infections and 46 coronavirus deaths.

AFP

Togo Prime Minister, Klassou Resigns

Togo Prime Minister, Komi Selom Klassou. Credit: @KSKlassou

 

Togo’s prime minister and his government have resigned, the West African nation’s presidency said late Friday.

President Faure Gnassingbe congratulated prime minister Komi Selom Klassou and his team for their “economic, political and social efforts and the encouraging results despite the health crisis around the world”, a statement on the presidency’s official website said.

Togo has been due for a political reshuffle since Gnassingbe was reelected in February for a fourth term in office, but changes were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The president’s election win, which came after a constitutional change allowing him to run, extended more than a half-century of dynastic rule over the former French colony by the Gnassingbe family.

The victory was disputed by the main opposition challenger, who has faced official harassment in the wake of the vote.

The president has led the country of eight million people since taking over in 2005 following the death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled for 38 years.

Klassou has served as prime minister since 2015.

Togo’s economy has been hit by the pandemic as the authorities have imposed restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.

The country has recorded 1,722 infections and 44 Covid-19 deaths.

AFP

Guinea, Togo Extend COVID-19 Restrictions

 

The West African states of Guinea and Togo announced late Tuesday that they were extending exceptional measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Guinean President Alpha Conde, in a decree read on national television, said restrictions would be extended by another month from Thursday, while in Togo, Prime Minister Selom Komi Klassou said a “health state of emergency” would be carried forward for another six months.

Guinea imposed nationwide measures on March 26 that have been repeatedly rolled over since then.

Some measures, such as closures of schools and borders, have been eased but others, including restrictions on public gatherings, remain in place.

Critics accuse the authorities of using anti-coronavirus laws to gag protests and political rallies in the runup to tense presidential elections on October 18.

One of the world’s poorest states, Guinea has recorded 10,111 cases of coronavirus, 63 of them fatal.

Togo’s parliament gave the government a six-month approval for anti-coronavirus measures on March 30, and the latest extension was approved unanimously, Klassou said.

The country has registered 1,595 coronavirus infections, 40 of them fatal, but the tally rose after the country reopened its airports on August 1.

“With this extension, we have 180 days to provide further protection for our fellow citizens, their work (and) purchasing power, to preserve our children’s school careers and remake our lifestyle while pursuing economic and social development,” he said.

AFP

Niger Republic, Benin Owe Nigeria Up To N1.4bn For Electricity – Presidency

A file photo of Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu

 

Two of Nigeria’s closest neighbours, Benin and Niger owe the country up to N1.4bn, the Presidency revealed on Tuesday.

In a statement, signed by spokesman Garba Shehu, addressing a report questioning why the nation was exporting electricity to neighbouring countries on credit – while blackouts persist nationwide – the Presidency noted that, as at 2019, the debt owed by four countries totalled $69m.

“As of the last review in 2019, the amount of indebtedness to all three customers stood at $69 million, subsequent upon which several payments were made to NBET,” the statement said. “Much of this has been repaid by the debtor nations.

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“As of today, Niger owes only USD 16 million and Benin, USD 4 million, adding up to the Naira equivalent of about N1.2bn.”

Why Nigeria Exports Power Despite Local Shortage?

The Presidency statement on Tuesday explained that the country exports power to neighbouring countries in respect of multilateral agreement that prevents the damming of water sources into the nation’s main hydropower stations.

“Power exported to Niger, Benin and Togo based on Multilateral Energy Sales Agreement with the Government of Nigeria is on the basis that they would not dam the waters that feed our major power plants in Kainji, Shiroro and Jebba,” the Presidency said.

“The essence of said bilateral agreements, by which we give them power and they do not build dams on the River Niger means that Nigeria and her brotherly neighbours had avoided the unfolding situation of the Nile River between the sovereign states of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.”

 

Togo Declares ‘State Of Emergency’ Over COVID-19

File photo/ AFP.

 

President Faure Gnassingbe of Togo has declared a three-month “state of emergency” and curfew aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus.

The tiny West African nation of eight million has so far recorded 36 confirmed infections and two deaths from the disease.

Gnassingbe said in a televised address late Wednesday that the unprecedented move was “proof of the gravity of the situation that we face”.

He said a curfew would be in place for an indefinite period from Thursday between 7pm and 6am.

A 5,000-strong unit of security agents was being set up to tackle the pandemic and a fund worth $650 million (600 million euros) was aimed at cushioning the economy from the impact of the crisis, the president said.

READ ALSO: Europe Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 30,000

Gnassingbe’s family has ruled Togo for over five decades.

The current leader took over after the death of his strongman father in 2005.

Gnassingbe, 53, claimed a fourth-term at an election in February that the opposition claimed saw widespread vote-rigging.

AFP

Coronavirus: Togo Star Adebayor Stuck In Quarantine

Emmanuel Adebayor is Togo's most famous player.
Emmanuel Adebayor is Togo’s most famous player.

 

Former Manchester City, Real Madrid and Togo international forward Emmanuel Adebayor is stuck in quarantine in Benin over the coronavirus pandemic, his Paraguayan club Olimpia said on social media.

The 36-year-old “took the decision to return to his country for the duration of the quarantine period declared by the government” of Paraguay, said Olimpia late on Monday.

However, in trying to return home he was put in quarantine in a hotel in the port of Cotonou, the largest city in Benin, alongside another 84 travelers, Olimpia said.

“His decision was to spend this time with his family,” Olimpia said of Adebayor’s attempts to make the long journey from Paraguay to Togo.

Like much Latin America, Paraguay is in partial shut down and has imposed a nighttime curfew.

The former Togo forward, who also played for Arsenal, Tottenham and Crystal Palace during a decade-long stay in the English Premier League, made a surprise move to the Paraguayan champions in February having left Turks Kayserispor in December.

“It’s like being at home. It doesn’t bother me at all,” Adebayor told reporters on his arrival in Benin, which borders Togo.

Adebayor is Togo’s most famous player and scored 32 goals in winning 87 caps, and helped his country qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

 

AFP

Togo Court Confirms President’s Election Victory

A police Armoured Personnel Carrier is parked in front of a campaign billboard for President Faure Gnassingbe, candidate of the ruling Union for the Republic (UNIR) party, and winner of the just concluded presidential election in Lome, on February 24, 2020. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP
A police Armoured Personnel Carrier is parked in front of a campaign billboard for President Faure Gnassingbe, candidate of the ruling Union for the Republic (UNIR) party, and winner of the just concluded presidential election in Lome, on February 24, 2020. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

 

Togo’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday rejected opposition claims of electoral fraud and declared Faure Gnassingbe the winner with more than 70 percent of the February vote and president for a fourth term.

In the final tally, the incumbent garnered 70.78 percent of the ballots while opposition leader and former prime minister Agbeyome Kodjodes took 19.46 percent, the court said

“Having obtained the absolute majority of votes in the first round of the ballot, Mr Faure Gnassingbe has to be declared elected president of the Republic,” announced Aboudou Assouma, president of the court.

A petition filed by Kodjo, who heads the Movement of Patriots for Democracy and Development, was annulled by the court which found it “lacked evidence likely to support the allegations.”

“I dispute with all my strength these results,” Kodjo, who had declared himself the winner before provisional results were released, told AFP.

“I consider that I am the legitimate victor in this election. I will continue to claim my victory,” he added.

The former prime minister, alleged “serious irregularities” in voting, including ballot stuffing and the use of fake polling stations.

Togo’s bishops, who back Kodjo’s movement, on Monday put out a statement critical of the election noting it took place “in a relatively calm climate” but “as far as transparency and fairness go the same cannot be said”.

Neither colonial power France nor the European Union has commented on the outcome of the ballot which keeps the Gnassingbe dynasty in power for more than half a century.

The United States voiced concern over the limited checks on voting and urged the Electoral Commission to publish results polling station by polling station for greater transparency.

Some 300 international observers were deployed, mainly from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union, with many African states supporting the incumbent.

Gnassingbe, 53, has led the country of eight million people since taking over in 2005 following the death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled with an iron fist for 38 years.

The electoral commission said turnout was over 76 percent. Gnassingbe’s tally was by far the biggest of all the successive elections he has won.

The president has insisted his continuing rule for five more years was central to ensuring security in Togo and preventing jihadist violence spilling over from Burkina Faso to the north.

 

AFP