By John Ikani
Togo’s has closed its western and eastern borders as part of efforts geared towards curbing Covid-19 surge.
Although Togo reports relatively low numbers of 13,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 125 deaths, the West African nation has upheld strict emergency sanitary measures since April last year.
The border closure blocks relation between the West African nation and several of its neighbours in the region — such as states like Ghana, Benin and the Ivory Coast.
The move indirectly deals a blow to Togo’s agriculture-dependent economy which relies heavily on cross-frontier trade.
Burkina Faso, Ghana and Benin were among the top five destinations for Togo’s exports in 2019, according to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The World Bank last year said in a report that the combination of closed borders, social distancing measures and restrictions on travel had delivered a heavy blow to Togo’s economic activity.
The bank has approved a $70 million credit to help Togo revive its economy — whose growth activity is forecast to accelerate by 4.8%, as per the Economy and Finance Minister Sani Yaya said in April on public television.
Asked repeatedly about reopening the border, the government has kept to its position.
“The land borders will be reopened when it is necessary,” Ihou Wateba, higher education minister who is also in charge of the coronavirus response, told a private radio channel earlier this year.
“Should we reopen the borders for fun or keep the current state of affairs? The situation is under control, that is what is important,” said one member of the government’s scientific advisory council.
Togolese authorities want to assure the population that the economy has shown itself to be “resilient” in the face of the crisis.