Togo’s Taxi Drivers Left Behind by Growing Economy
Swarming the streets of Togo’s capital Lome, thousands of motorcycle taxi drivers are just some of those left behind by the recent economic growth spurt in the crushingly poor nation.
Some have college degrees and work multiple jobs but still take home as little as $1.60 a day transporting passengers in the west African country that is gearing up for presidential elections on Saturday.
“There is no work,” said 31-year-old Gabriel, a driver who holds a high school diploma. “Everyone is a motorcycle taxi driver. There are thousands of them – too many.”
While Togo now hits six percent economic growth per year, more than half the country of roughly seven million survives on less than $1 per day as the nation claws its way back from 14 years of international sanctions.
“Young people are being suffocated by unemployment in Togo,” said Maurice Toupane, a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Senegal’s capital Dakar.
“Many young people are leaving the country for Nigeria and the holders of university degrees find themselves driving motorcycle taxis.”