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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  • Determinants of property rate default: Evidence from the Ashanti Region, Ghana

    University of Technology Sydney Centre for Local Government, 2015
    This study seeks to assess the determinants of property rates default in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. A multi-stage sampling technique was used to study 540 respondents from one municipal and five district assemblies within the region. A structured questionnaire collected data from the sampled respondents. Descriptive statistics (means, frequency distribution and percentages) and the probit regression model were then used to analyse the data with the help of SPSS and STATA respectively....
  • Mapping property taxes in Africa

    Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2009
    Africa’s enormous challenges and equally great potential have led to intense international debate over how best to assist its citizens. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2009), the continent contains 33 of the 49 least developed countries in the world. Its population faces pressing needs ranging from basic health care and education to improved governance and strengthened legal systems....
  • Thick claims and thin rights: Taxation and the construction of analogue property rights in Lagos

    Taylor and Francis Group, 2020
    The importance of tenure security for development and wellbeing is often reduced to questions about how titles can guarantee rights, overlooking the contested and layered nature of property rights themselves. We use the case of Lagos to analyse property rights as ‘analogue’ rather than ‘digital’ in nature – things that only exist by degree, where a dynamic urban situation renders the distinction between a right and a claim much less clear than conventional approaches suggest....
  • Taxing property owners in Dakar

    International Growth Centre, 2019
    Property taxes in the region of Dakar offer a huge potential for local revenue mobilisation, which remains mostly untapped • Baseline results show that only an estimated 20% of plots are on the tax roll (administrative data), 12% of owners paid the property tax in 2018, and tax payments do not exceed 20% of theoretical tax revenues (survey data) • The authors partnered with the national tax administration to develop and implement a modernised property tax management system, which is being rolled-out through a randomised control trial (RCT) in the region of Dakar....
  • Taxer les propriétaires fonciers à Dakar

    International Growth Centre, 2019
    Les impôts fonciers dans la région de Dakar offrent un potentiel énorme pour la mobilisation des revenus locaux, qui reste en grande partie inexploité. • Les résultats d’une enquête de référence montrent que seulement 20% des parcelles sont inscrites au rôle d’imposition (données administratives), que 12% des propriétaires ont payé la taxe foncière en 2018 et que les paiements ne dépassent pas 20% des recettes fiscales théoriques (données d’enquête)....
  • The political economy of property tax reform

    Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2014
    Property taxes are generally considered by economists to be good taxes, and many countries are being advised to increase and improve their property taxes. In practice, however, property tax reforms have often proved to be difficult to carry out successfully. This paper discusses why property taxes are particularly challenging to reform and suggests several ways in which efforts to reform this tax may become more successful in the future....
  • 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 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. It combines desk research with interviews of local key informants with deep knowledge of the policy and market dynamics in the three cities and representing different perspectives....
  • Effect of information systems on revenue collection by local authorities in Homa Bay County, Kenya

    Horizon Research Publishing, 2013
    This paper examined the effect of Information Systems on revenue collection of Local Authorities in Homa Bay, Kenya. Study objectives included establishing the relationship between internal control systems, Information Systems and revenue collection in Kenyan Local Authorities; determining the levels of quality service offered to the clients by Local Authorities and investigating whether Information Systems relate to effectiveness and efficiency of Revenue Collection....
  • Using satellite imagery to revolutionize creation of tax maps and local revenue collection

    World Bank Publications, 2018
    The technical complexity of ensuring that tax rolls are complete and valuations current is often perceived as a major barrier to bringing in more property tax revenues in developing countries. This paper shows how high-resolution satellite imagery makes it possible to assess the completeness of existing tax maps by estimating built-up areas based on building heights and footprints. Together with information on sales prices from the land registry, targeted surveys, and routine statistical data, this makes it possible to use mass valuation procedures to generate tax maps....
  • Using satellite imagery to revolutionize creation of tax maps and local revenue collection

    World Bank Publications, 2018
    The technical complexity of ensuring that tax rolls are complete and valuations current is often perceived as a major barrier to bringing in more property tax revenues in developing countries. This paper shows how high-resolution satellite imagery makes it possible to assess the completeness of existing tax maps by estimating built-up areas based on building heights and footprints. Together with information on sales prices from the land registry, targeted surveys, and routine statistical data, this makes it possible to use mass valuation procedures to generate tax maps....

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