In Togo, the highly strategic phosphates sector, which brings in 40% of the country's export revenues, is managed at the presidency, not to say directly by President Faure Gnassingbe. This has been particularly true in recent months as realisation of the great project to revitalise the sector through exploitation of carbonated phosphates has become delayed.
The pressure is mounting. Indeed, the president's leading advisers are striving to take control of matters as concern mounts at the World Bank and IMF. The two bodies have made their aid conditional on a restructuring of the sector and an increase in the transparency of its functioning. At stake is the keenly awaited integration of the downstream end of the phosphates sector and the emergence of a local fertiliser industry.

In the existing set-up, the mines minister, who is a loyal servant of the presidency, has no room for manoeuvre. His post can remain vacant, moreover, for months on end. The president and director general of Société Nouvelle des Phosphates du Togo (SNPT), who are appointed by the presidency, do not have any greater latitude.