Excerpt from Africa Housing Finance Yearbook 2014


Togo is a small country in the Gulf of Guinea which became independent from France in 1960. A strip of land between Ghana and Benin, Togo occupies an area of 56 800 km2, with 56km of coastline, making it a transit country to the hinterland (Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad). According to the 2010 census, Togo has a population of 6 191 155, growing at 2.8 percent per year.

Togo is part of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). The economy is dominated by the primary sector which contributes up to 38 percent to economic growth, while industrial activities contribute 22 percent. In 2011, GDP growth was measured at 3.9 percent. This reached 5.9 percent in 2012 due to increases in the exports of phosphate (of which Togo is one of the largest exporters in Africa) and cotton, expansion of the public works and construction sector, and an upturn in activities at the port of Lomé stemming from a downturn in activities at the port of Cotonou in Benin. Good economic prospects in Togo over recent years are also the

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Excerpt from Africa Housing Finance Yearbook 2014


Togo is a small country in the Gulf of Guinea which became independent from France in 1960. A strip of land between Ghana and Benin, Togo occupies an area of 56 800 km2, with 56km of coastline, making it a transit country to the hinterland (Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad). According to the 2010 census, Togo has a population of 6 191 155, growing at 2.8 percent per year.

Togo is part of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). The economy is dominated by the primary sector which contributes up to 38 percent to economic growth, while industrial activities contribute 22 percent. In 2011, GDP growth was measured at 3.9 percent. This reached 5.9 percent in 2012 due to increases in the exports of phosphate (of which Togo is one of the largest exporters in Africa) and cotton, expansion of the public works and construction sector, and an upturn in activities at the port of Lomé stemming from a downturn in activities at the port of Cotonou in Benin. Good economic prospects in Togo over recent years are also the result of several ongoing economic and fiscal reforms in the country since 2008/2009. GDP growth was 5.1 percent in 2013. The inflation rate was 2.3 percent in 2012, mostly due to a significant drop in the price of communication services, and dropped to 1.8 percent in 2013 due to a fall in food prices.

Poverty is a major concern in Togo, with six in 10 people living below the poverty line, a figure which reaches nine in 10 people in the northern part of the country.


Access to finance

Togo is part of the Central Bank of West African States of which there are seven other member states (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger and Senegal). Togo’s national financial system is highly concentrated, with one bank owning over one fifth of the total banks assets in the country. In 2013, a new bank received the Government agreement, the Société Inter-Africaine de Banque (SIAB-Togo), bringing the number of banks to 13. On top of these, two financial intermediaries were recorded: The Fonds Africain de Garantie des Investissements Privés en Afrique de l’Ouest (GARI) and the Regional Mortgage Refinancing Fund (Caisse Régionale de Garantie Hypothécaire –CRRH). The Banking system is dominated by commercial banks, a third of which are government-owned. Public banks were supposed to be privatised in 2013, but so far this has not happened. Togo is also the headquarters of the pan-African bank Ecobank. In 2013 there were 183 bank branches, 191 ATM machines and 671 451 bank accounts.

As of March 2014, there were 92 registered microfinance institutions (MFIs) with 858 service points. These MFIs had 2.2 million clients with total deposits of CFA Francs 143 billion (US$278 million), a 15 percent increase compared to the 2012 level. Total outstanding loans reached CFA Francs 115 billion (around US$223 million). The Faîtière des Unités Coopératives d’Epargne et de Crédit (FUCEC – Togo) is probably the biggest microfinance network in Togo with over 500 000 members and consolidated assets worth about CFA Francs 50 billion (about US$100 million).

Over the past few years, the Government increased initiatives directed to ease access to financial services for its population. This is in line with the choice made through the Poverty reduction strategy paper to make finance more inclusive. In 2014, the government therefore created the National Inclusive Finance Fund (Fonds National de la Finance Inclusive – FNFI) with the aim of reaching those at the bottom of the revenue ladder. With this initiative the government, through microfinance networks, channelled small loans at close to zero interest rate to the targeted population.

Togo has two social security institutions, the Togolese Pension Fund (CRT) for civil servants and the National Social Security Fund (CNSS) for private sector employees and other categories of government personnel. Recently a National Health Insurance Institute was created, which is a national universal health insurance scheme currently only open to civil servants but expected to be extended to the whole population in the future. No serious progress was made in this direction in 2013. As in many African contries, both social security institutions are unfunded defined benefit schemes and face financial difficulties and structural challenges. Indeed, both institutions have been running deficits for many years and survive through government subsidies. Strong and substantive reforms are needed to revive these institutions.

Access to credit is limited and most lending from the banking system is short to medium term. Access to credit as measured by credit to the economy was CFA Francs 691 billion (US$1.3 billion) in 2013, a 13 percent increase from its 2012 level. This represents 32.4 percent of the GDP. Short-term loans represented more than 55 percent of credits while only 44 percent were medium-term or long-term loans. A few banks offer housing finance and mortgage products and services, ranging from loans for land acquisition to loans for housing enhancement and loans for housing purchase of construction. The Union Togolaise de Banque (UTB) offers all of these products, while the Togolese Bank for Commerce and Industry (Banque Togolaise pour le Commerce et l’Industrie, or BTCI) and the Togolese Savings Bank (Caisse d’Epargne du Togo) have also developed housing finance products. Conditions of access to these products vary from one bank to the next, but the loan period is usually between four and 10 years. The interest rate is between 11 and 12 percent on average, while guarantees requested by the lending bank range from a mortgage on the purchased land or house to life insurance. Some banks request a percentage of up to five percent of the loan as a guarantee. The amount of the loan can be as high as 50 percent of the annual salary of the borrower. In general these loans are available to people with regular jobs and revenues from the public and private sector. In 2014, the Union Togolaise de Banque (UTB), celebrating its 50 year anniversary, offered short term loans at as low as seven percent.

Lomé, the capital city, is also headquarters of the Regional Mortgage Refinancing Fund (the Caisse Régionale de Refinancement Hypothécaire, or CRRH), a regional fund created in 2010 to facilitate access to long-term resources needed to provide long-term loans such as housing finance and mortgages. Several Togolese banks such as EcoBank and Banque Atlantique Togo are shareholders of the fund.

In September 2014, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development organised a workshop to validate the feasibility study of a housing bank in Togo, as in Benin and in Mali. The validation of this study will launch the creation of this bank as a key instrument of the Government housing policy.



The average monthly income is estimated at CFA Francs 35 340 (US$70.48), and is equivalent to an annual average salary of US$842.76. In Lomé, the price per square metre of land varies between CFA Francs 16 500 (US$33) and CFA Francs 33 500 (US$66.81) in the suburbs and between CFA Francs 33 500 and CFA Francs 83 500 (US$167) in downtown Lomé. The minimum size of a plot is 150m2 for a minimum housing size of 40m2.

While the cement price in Togo is the cheapest of all countries in the WAEMU, it is still far above the purchasing power of most Togolese. Indeed, a standard 50kg bag of cement costs between CFA Francs 4 000 (US$7.77) and CFA Francs 4 050 (US$7.86). A standard galvanised sheet of iron for roofing costs between US$3.60) and US$6.21. Other construction materials are also out of reach of the poorest people. However, the price of cement is expected to decrease in the near future. Indeed, in 2014 the cement sector leader, Heidelberg Cement, launched the construction of two new cement plants in Togo (of which one will be in the extreme North in Dapaong), with the goal of providing 1.7 million tons of cement each year upon completion.

It will take between 10 and 15 years for a senior manager in the Togolese public administration to pay off the price of land in downtown Lomé. The cheapest housing unit (40m2) built by a developer costs about US$7 739 excluding land costs. Under these conditions, housing affordability, is a mere dream for most Togolese, even for many with a formal job and a regular income.


Housing supply

From the 1960s to the 1990s, the government of Togo invested significant effort and resources into the supply of housing. Several instruments were put in place, including a Special Housing Development Fund, and housing-specific operations were initiated by the Togolese Development Bank (BTD), the Société Immobilière Togolaise (SITO) and the National Social Security Fund (CNSS). However, in the 40 year period between 1954 and 1994, these institutions produced and placed on the housing market only 1 447 apartments. These units were sold through a leasing arrangement to employees over a period of 10 to 15 years. The cost of these units in all cases was such that even high income senior executives were unable to access them.

Today housing supply is a real challenge that households overcome through self-construction. But self-construction and poor provision of serviced lands, combined with a rural exodus, have contributed to urban sprawl on the northern side of Lomé, which is now mainly made up of slums. Only richer people can afford to purchase land in Lomé and other secondary cities and build formal houses. Conscious of challenges in the sector, the government of Togo has actively sought solutions to the problem of the housing shortage, engaging, for example, with Shelter Afrique and private developers in an attempt to supply the housing needed in the market. These potential solutions include a plan to create 1 000 affordable housing units in the north-east of Sanguera, a town 25km to the west of Lomé. No serious progress has been made on this in 2014. In November 2012, a partnership was signed between the Atlantique Bank Group for the financing of several real estate projects in seven countries in West Africa, including in Togo. Also, a new real estate project was started in 2011 to provide about 100 houses along the Lomé beach, a few kilometres from the Ghanaian border. In September 2014, none of these housing units have been completed.

In 2014, President Faure Gnassingbe, the Head of the State announced the construction of 1 000 housing units in the country before the end of the year, as part of the Government’s plan to increase access to affordable housing. To this should be added housing units to be created in each of the five regional development poles announced by the President. In June this same year, the government of Togo signed a deal with Shelter Afrique in Abidjan for the financing of the construction of 153 housing units in Lomé through a CFA Francs 10 billion bond (about US$20 million).

Likewise the Moroccan real estate firm Addoha expressed interest in investing both in the construction of new cement plants, but also in the housing sector in countries such as Togo and Benin. However, all of these announcements are slow to materialise, leaving the situation of housing supply almost unchanged over the past years in Togo.


Property market

Togo’s formal property market is still developing. According to the 2010 general population and housing census, only 68 074 of all properties in the country had a property title, of which 14 238 were in Lomé. A study commissioned in 2008 by the Ministry of Justice found that it took nine steps and 49 procedures to register land in Togo, and cost on average CFA Francs 250 000 (US$500). Another study commissioned in 2011 in preparation for the Togo Land Code found that a total of 10 government agencies were involved in delivering a land title, through a process costing up to 25 percent of the property value. This cost does not include the official cost of the land title, which comes to 11 percent of the value of the property. However, according to the World Bank’s 2014 Doing Business Report, Togo improved its ranking from 163th on the “Registering a property” indicator to 159th. But it still takes 295 days to complete all land titling procedures.

There is no cadastre in Togo, despite the existence of a Central Directorate of Cartography and Cadastre. It has been reported recently in a diagnostic study on land problems in Togo, commissioned by the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, that the land title had lost its unimpeachable character due to rampant corruption, which has resulted in many cases of double registration of the same piece of land. Indeed, there were several court cases pending in which different people claimed ownership of property title on the same piece of land because the registry was corrupted at some point. It is expected that the new Land Code will help to address this kind of problem, streamline the titling procedure and institutions and give back value to the land title.

The government of Togo has engaged in several reforms to improve the situation. The preparation of the Togo Land Code, which is at the National Assembly to be passed, is a major step ahead in these reforms. Hopefully the new elected Parliament will put the Code on the priority list. These reforms yielded some recognition to Togo, which ranked 157th out of 189 economies on the overall ‘ease of doing’ business indicator of the World Bank’s 2014 Doing Business Report, up two places from its 2013 rank. On the ‘registering a property’ indicator, Togo ranked 159th. In 2013, it takes five procedures and 295 days, and costs 11.4 percent of the property value to register a property in Togo.

Obtaining a construction permit became mandatory in 2007. The rule is jointly enforced by the Togolese Order of Geometers, the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, and some municipalities such as that of Lomé or Kara. Yet, it is still very expensive to get such permit (which remains unaffordable to most Togolese), as it costs 458.5 percent of per capita income, takes 155 days and 12 procedures to obtain it. In 2014, Togo has improved construction permit procedures, cutting down the time it takes to get it by half, from 309 days in 2013. This yielded a jump in the country’s ranking on the “Getting construction permit” indicator of the World Bank’s 2014 Doing Business Report, from 141th in 2013 to 114th in 2014. People thus continue with direct sales of properties on the basis of a simple sales agreement in the informal market. Sometimes, for those who can afford it, the assistance of a notary is procured.


Policy and regulation

The successive Constitutions of Togo (including that of 2002, the most recent) recognise the right to housing as a fundamental human right. However, the regulatory environment around housing and housing finance has not changed much over the past five decades. Most of the existing policies and regulations to recognise and translate this fundamental right into everyday reality for Togolese citizens were enacted between the 1950s and 1970s. Indeed, similar to many countries, especially in West Africa, the government of Togo launched a proactive housing policy in the 1960s and 1970s, which resulted in the establishment of 11 government-supported structures and agencies.

Amongst these were the Centre for Housing Construction (Centre de la Construction et du Logement, or CCL), which was to research and develop building materials at a reduced cost from local resources, the Agency for the Equipment of Urban Land (Agence d’Equipement des Terrains Urbains, or AGETU) which played the role of land developer, the Togolese Realty Corporation (Societe Immobiliere du Togo, or SITO), which was responsible for all operations related to the promotion of housing for the benefit of low and middle income Togolese, the Special Fund for Housing Development (Fonds Special de Developpement de l’Habitat, or FSDH), which was to finance operations and service land for social housing, and the Togolese Sponsorship Corporation (Societe Togolaise de Promotion, or TOGO-PROM), which was to conduct studies, and promote finance and implement real estate, industrial and agricultural projects.

Unfortunately the reality today is that most of these public agencies have failed and were dismantled; only the CCL and TOGO-PROM remain and are still operating. The only achievement of the SITO was the construction of the Cité de l’Union, a 124 housing unit project near the Lomé airport for the upper middle class in 1980s, which sold at between CFA Francs 5 million and CFA Francs 10 million at the time.

Because of the failure of past policies, the housing deficit grew over the years and is estimated at around 250 000 today, requiring a supply of 23 000 units a year to clear the backlog. For several years, especially during the decade of embargo on international aid (1993-2007), access to credit became very difficult. Several banks suspended housing finance and long-term finance, while those which continued to offer finance made it very difficult to access, with soaring interest rates.

Over the decade starting in 2000, the housing and land policy question returned to the public policy agenda. On the urban and land management front, the government of Togo adopted several policy reforms, including the adoption of the National Urban Sector Policy Statement and the Housing Policy Statement. In 2009, a new National Housing Strategy was adopted. The focus of the strategy has been to reorganise the housing sector through the adoption of adequate legislation, improve the existing real estate park and provide all social strata, particularly low and middle income households, with affordable housing that meets minimum safety, occupancy, structural stability and temporal standards. The strategy stipulates that the Government will contribute every year to this demand by facilitating the supply (through public private partnerships and subsidy programmes) of 2 500 housing units against an annual demand estimated at 23 000 units. As of today, no concrete results can be shown on the ground, despite the promise of the Head of State to supply 1 000 housing units before the end of 2014.

Several other reforms were launched, including the revision of the Togo Land Code, the validation of a draft Law on Real Estate Development in December 2010 (which are still pending at the National Assembly – the Parliament) and the drafting of the Togo Urban Development and Construction Code. The Real Estate Development draft law covers areas such as conditions required to perform the profession of real estate developer, social real estate development operations (the law imposes a minimum of 100 housing units for this type of operation) and the production of serviced land. An important change to be brought into the housing and real estate sector by this code is the creation of a new public entity with the mandate to produce and sell serviced land – the Societe d’Equipement des Terrains Urbains (SETU). Several other reforms, supported by the International Finance Corporation, are under way to progressively secure properties.

Finally, in September 2014, the Togo Government launched a series of studies to develop a master plan for the Grand Lomé. This is part of the ongoing prospective planning Togo 2030 promoted by the Togo Government.



One can say that Togo has fully recovered from more than a decade of international embargos. The government has engaged in several important economic and fiscal reforms which should continue improving the business environment, but also the road and energy infrastructure. With a high demand for housing, several companies have been positioning themselves to take advantage of a market that is still untapped. Shelter Afrique confirmed its interest in investing in housing projects in Togo by committing to the development of a pilot 153 housing unit project in April 2014. The Moroccan real estate investment group Addoha expressed interest in investing in cement plants but also in housing, while the feasibility study for a housing bank in Togo is near completion. This is all in preparation for major changes in the housing finance sector in Togo.

According to a recent study by the French Development Agency, the population in Togo should increase by at least 50 percent between now and 2030, and double by 2050. The population of Lomé alone should double by 2030 and multiply by a factor of three or four by 2050, depending on the fecundity rate and rural to urban migration. As a consequence, social demand, including demand for housing, will experience a strong increase, presenting an opportunity for developing innovative housing policies, especially in a context characterised by low incomes. The scarcity of developers today leaves the room for newcomers to take advantage of these opportunities.



AfDB, OECD, UNDP and UNECA (2014). African Economic Outlook 2014. Country Note Togo.

Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (2014). Base de Données Economiques et Financières.

UMOA (2014). Commission Bancaire de l’UMOA. Rapport Annuel 2013. Abidjan, Juillet 2014.