African Property Tax Initiative Library

Africa is the fastest urbanising continent on the planet. In order to provide citizens with adequate public goods and services and invest in the required infrastructure, African cities need sufficient and sustainable revenues. Property taxation is equitable, and provides stable funding for local governments. In developed countries, property taxes are the mainstay of local funding, with collection amounting to 2.2% of GDP on average.

In developing and transition countries, the average yield is 0.6% of GDP, while in Africa the tally averages a mere 0.38%. With many African cities booming, this represents a significant opportunity: If prosperous African cities could increase the proportion of tax collected from property, they could do much more to improve the quality of life of their communities. 

African countries face a number of technical, administrative, and political challenges in increasing property tax revenues, and research is needed to inform reform processes. To this end, the African Property Tax Initiative (APTI) was established in 2017. It is coordinated by the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD) with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This library is intended to be of use to APTI members, with resources on the Initiative’s four core themes.

Image credit: Kampala city center | Lauren Parnell Marino | Flickr | CC BY NC 2.0

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  • Urban land value capture in São Paulo, Addis Ababa, and Hyderabad: Differing interpretations, equity impacts, and enabling conditions

    Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2020
    This paper presents analysis of the fiscal and equity impacts of urban land value capture (LVC) instruments based on three case studies from the global south. These include the Lideta redevelopment in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; the Outer Ring Road in Hyderabad, India; and Água Espraiada Urban Operation in São Paulo, Brazil....
  • Can land taxes forster sustainable development? An assessment of fiscal, distributional and implementation issues

    Elsevier, 2018
    Economists argue that land rent taxation is an ideal form of taxation as it causes no deadweight losses. Nevertheless, pure land rent taxation is rarely applied. This paper revisits the case of land taxation for developing countries. We first provide an up-to-date review on land taxation in development countries, including feasibility and implementation challenges.The authors then simulate land tax reforms for Rwanda, Peru, Nicaragua and Indonesia, based on household surveys....
  • Cities as a strategic resource: Guideline for Ghana’s national urban policy revision

    Ghana Urbanization Think Tank, 2019
    As a regional pioneer, Ghana is busy revising the National Urban Policy (NUP) it released in 2012....
  • Enhancing property rates administration, collection and enforcement in Uganda: The case of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and four other municipalities

    International Centre for Tax and Development, 2019
    Uganda was among the first African countries to embrace a decentralised system of government in the 1990s. The objective of this policy was to bring services closer to the people while at the same time enhancing local participation and democracy. The success of decentralisation was, however, greatly dependent on the amount of funds and other resources available to local governments. Before it was scrapped, graduated tax – a form of poll tax – contributed a significant part of local government own source revenue....
  • Local government property tax administration and collaboration with central government: Case studies of Kiambu, Laikipia and Machakos Counties, Kenya

    International Centre for Tax and Development, 2019
    Property taxes are a major source of revenue at sub-national levels in most countries, but their administration is complex, and in most cases the process involves both national and sub-national governments. In Kenya, county governments have legislative authority to levy property taxes and the responsibility to finance some of the cost of the services they provide....
  • Driver and barriers of ICT adoption in revenue collection in Ghana: A case of Accra Metropolitan Assembly

    Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, 2019
    Act 462 of 1993 and Act 936 of 2016 of the Local Government of Ghana delegates power to the District and Municipal Assemblies to formulate and execute plans, programs, and strategies to effectively mobilize resources necessary for the overall development of the district and to levy and collect taxes, rates, duties, and fees. Over the years, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) has been trying to implement what the act states. However, the Assembly faces challenges of revenue collection, storage, and dissemination of information....
  • The role of ICT in property tax administration: Lessons from Tanzania

    Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway, 2019
    A key problem facing revenue administrations in many developing countries is that they operate manual paper-based recording systems. This is particularly the case for property taxation. Revenue leakages are common and occur because of untimely collection, corruption and under-collection. Difficulties emerge in estimating how many taxpayers are missing from their registered rolls, how many of those who are registered are inactive, and how much is actually being evaded through non-payments, corruption and ineffective billing systems....
  • Property tax reform for local government revenue mobilisation in sub-Saharan Africa

    Adam Smith Institute, 2019
    To ensure sustainability and accountability of financing the Sustainable Development Goals and challenging infrastructure needs, developing country governments and development partners are looking at a range of measures to enhance domestic revenue mobilisation. One of the measures that is often cited, especially as a source of local government own revenue is property taxation....
  • Land and property tax for municipal finance

    International Growth Centre, 2018
    As cities grow, the wealth they create becomes capitalised in the rising land values of the city. Parts of peri-urban land in Kigali have increased in value over 1000-fold in the last 10 years. The question for policy then, is who captures this gain? The default option is that it gets captured by a few lucky individuals. In the 19th century, the Duke of Westminster became the richest man in Britain purely because he owned the land upon which the city of London developed. Smart public policy leads to a different outcome....
  • Land and property taxes: Exploiting untapped municipal revenues

    International Growth Centre, 2018
    This brief outlines the importance of annual land and property tax as a source of municipal finance and explores trade-offs that policymakers face in implementing reform. It also identifies examples of best practice for reform from cities across the developing world....

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