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

In this collection


Showing 51-60 of 60 results

  • Property taxation in developing countries

    Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway, 2017
    Property tax (PT) raises on average revenues of less than 1% of GDP in developing countries. In many African countries it contributes far less than 0.5%. Following such low contribution, there is a growing eagerness among policy makers to increase its share in GDP.This policy brief provides a theoretical rationale behind such enthusiasm by discussing the reasons for considering PT as a ‘good’ tax compared to other forms of taxes such as income and consumption tax. It also elaborates on conditions under which PT may lead to inefficiencies and inequities....
  • Taxing the urban boom: property taxation and land leasing in Kigali and Addis Ababa

    International Centre for Tax and Development, 2015
    Much contemporary economic growth in Africa is driven by urban service sectors including construction and real estate. This manifests in rapidly transforming landscapes and the proliferation of valuable property in the continent’s booming large cities, often accompanied by growing socio-economic inequality. In this context, improving systems for property taxation is an urgent and growing need – something that national and international policymakers increasingly recognise....
  • Perspectives from the field: SDC cooperation for property taxation

    Institute of Development Studies UK, 2017
    This paper reviews three projects implemented in the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s (SDC) Democratisation, Decentralisation and Local Governance Network (DDLGN) that aim to provide incentives for local governments to increase tax compliance and revenues.The investigation focuses on three projects that aim to improve local revenue mobilisation: (1) a competition among municipalities in Serbia, (2) a performance-based grant system in Kosovo, and (3) a project on municipal social accountability in Mozambique....
  • Designing a property tax reform strategy for sub‐Saharan Africa: an analytical framework applied to Kenya

    Wiley Online Library, 2000
    Countries throughout Sub‐Saharan Africa are exploring options to improve local property taxation. Using the case of Kenya, this article provides an analytical framework for designing an effective property tax reform strategy.The first section presents a general conceptual model of property tax revenues, identifying four critical ratios that ultimately determine the effectiveness of any property tax system—namely, the coverage ratio, the valuation ratio, the tax ratio, and the collection ratio....
  • Mapping property taxes in Africa

    Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2009
    A frica’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.At the same time, some critics charge that direct aid to Africa has undermined indigenous economic and political growth (Moyo 2009)....
  • Property rating potentials and hurdles: what can be done to boost property rating in Ghana?

    University of Technology, Sydney, 2015
     Population growth in many of Africa’s towns and cities has outpaced local authority capacity to provide efficient management, infrastructure and financing. There is already debate over the capability and capacity of urban local governments to provide basic services to a growing population, due to budget constraints and inability to raise the required local-level revenue....
  • The political economy of property tax in Africa: explaining reform outcomes in Sierra Leone

    Oxford University Press, 2015
    Effective local government taxation is critical to achieving the governance benefits widely attributed to decentralization, but in practice successful tax reform has been rare because of entrenched political resistance....
  • Practical aspects of mobilising property tax: experience in Sierra Leone and Malawi

    University of Technology, Sydney, 2015
    Much literature has been written about the appeal of property tax as a stable source of revenue for subnational governments in developing countries. Building on this significant background of literature is the author’s practical experience working in local government institutions within both Sierra Leone and Malawi.This article relates to the development and testing of a process of mobilizing the internally generated property tax revenues of local governments, and reports on the results of that process, and the challenges and lessons learned....
  • Rebuilding local government finance after conflict: the political economy of property tax reform in post-conflict Sierra Leone

    Institute of Development Studies UK, 2013
    This research explores relatively successful reforms of the local property tax system in the four largest city councils in Sierra Leone. Deriving lessons from differing outcomes across the four councils, it highlights three key messages about the determinants of successful reform. First, relatively modest and targeted support from the international community and the central government has been critical.However, the success of such initiatives must be grounded in a focus on longer-term, hands-on, local-level partnerships....
  • Taxation, property rights and the social contract in Lagos

    Institute of Development Studies UK, 2018
    Major taxation reforms over the past decade have been interpreted as facilitating the transformation of Lagos: once widely seen as a city in permanent crisis, it is now seen by some observers as a beacon of megacity development. Most academic attention has focused on personal income taxation, which comprises the lion’s share of government revenue in Lagos....


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