The XVIII Francophonie Summit ended on Sunday, November 20 in Djerba, Tunisia. It brought together for 48 hours the Heads of State and Government of the 88 Member States of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF). At the end of the summit, several texts were adopted, including the « Declaration on the French language in the linguistic diversity of the Francophonie ». A document in which the signatories undertake to further promote the use of French in the French-speaking world and beyond. On the African continent, some countries have joined the Commonwealth, an English-speaking organization, while maintaining their place within La Francophonie. This is the case recently in Togo. Robert Dussey, Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Integration and Togolese Abroad, answers questions from RFI’s special envoy to Djerba, Clémentine Pawlotsky.
RFI: Your country, Togo, recently chose to join the Commonwealth while maintaining a foothold in La Francophonie. First, why this choice?
Robert Dussey: This choice is justified for several reasons. First, historically. Do not forget that part of Togo is attached to Ghana. Some Togolese today find themselves Ghanaians. So it is the same culture that you find in both Togo and Ghana. On a linguistic level, because they are Ghanaians today, but Togolese of origin, apart from the local languages, these Togolese populations speak English. So every day, roughly, you have thousands of Togolese crossing to Ghana for several reasons: some go to school, they do business, etc. And several Ghanaians who enter here in Togo for the same thing, and vice versa. At the border, we had over 100,000 Togolese and Ghanaians crossing at any given time. For these historical, cultural, demographic reasons, it is easy to understand that Togo can join the Commonwealth, while emphasizing an important economic advantage because the Commonwealth is one of the major diplomatic networks in the world. And so, the Togolese government also wanted to be a member of the Commonwealth, and this is what was done on June 25, in Kigali.
Very concretely, what economic benefits do you expect with this integration of the Commonwealth?
From an economic point of view, the repercussions are clear. First, by diversifying our economies, by the bilateral agreements that we are preparing to sign with several Commonwealth countries. The benefits will be real for the Togolese economy through businessmen, small and medium-sized Togolese companies who have the facilities to sign bilateral agreements very quickly and more easily with Commonwealth countries, and to develop our Togolese economy. . We had a national development program. This national development program has priorities in the agricultural field, agricultural transformation, Togo which must be a hub for the sub-region. And this cannot be done without there being a deal, which is an anglicism now, between Togolese businessmen and women, with Commonwealth companies which are companies, it must be recognized, the most dynamics in the world today.