African Property Tax Initiative (APTI)

Although property taxation is widely known to be among the best forms of taxation for ensuring equity, economic growth, and providing stable funding for local governments, it has remained highly underused in many parts of the world, including Africa. This has created a vital need for improved property tax policies and implementation frameworks on the continent. With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD) is pleased to introduce the African Property Tax Initiative (APTI).

APTI’s main objective is to stimulate and encourage wider use of more effective property tax systems in Africa. We are working to build the critical mass needed to successfully support African governments that are considering or currently undertaking property tax reforms. To this end, APTI is currently engaged in:

  • Establishing a well-resourced network of property tax practitioners, policymakers, and researchers who can support and learn from each other, and
  • Producing and disseminating robust research on key themes to inform policy and practice.

Areas of Focus

Over the next two years, APTI’s activities will focus on four priority themes, namely:

1. Strengthening the use of information technology for property tax,

2. Exploring locally appropriate approaches to valuation,

3. Examining the roles of local and central governments in property tax collection, and

4. Investigating the link between property taxation and public services in enhancing the relationship between governments and citizens.

Value Proposition

To successfully support property tax reform across Africa, APTI’s activities are designed to enhance opportunities for collaboration and provide real benefits to participating stakeholders. Therefore, APTI will generate and organise:

  • Quality research outputs such as working papers, policy briefs, and practical guides that offer insight into issues inhibiting the fulfilment of property taxation’s potential, and lessons for improving outcomes;
  • Capacity building events tailored to increase understanding of political and operational property tax issues for professionals in both central and local governments; and
  • Network meetings that will be a unique platform for dialogue, bringing together stakeholders to share their experiences, debate salient issues, and lead Africa’s agenda on property taxation.

Organisation

The APTI will be a virtual network, formally part of the International Centre for Tax and Development. It will be overseen by a Management Committee comprised of:

  • Professor Wilson Prichard (University of Toronto and Institute of Development Studies) (Chair)
  • Dr Nara Monkam (Research Director, African Tax Administration Forum)
  • Dr Samuel Jibao (Centre for Economic Research and Capacity Building, Sierra Leone)
  • Paul Fish (Revenue Development Foundation)
  • Dr Tom Goodfellow (University of Sheffield)
  • David Nguyen-Thanh (GIZ)

The Project Leader is Nyah Zebong, who has a Phd from Dundee University in Petroleum and Mining Taxation, and was previously a tax inspector with the revenue authority in Cameroon. He will be responsible for establishing close partnerships with revenue agencies and researchers across Africa, who will become the drivers of the work of the APTI.

Opportunities for Engagement

We are seeking to identify researchers interested in property taxation in Africa, with whom we can work, as well as governments with whom we may partner in offering advice and support, or conducting research. If you are interested, please contact Nyah Zebong at za.nyah@ictd.ac and/or Wilson Prichard at wilson.prichard@utoronto.ca.

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See the briefs on APTI's four core themes

September 2017
Linking Property Tax Revenue and Public Services
by Wilson Prichard

In practical terms most property tax reforms are, first and foremost, efforts to increase tax revenue. But the ultimate goal of tax reform is, of course, broader: expanding tax revenue in order to finance the provision of valuable publicly-provided goods and services. Tax reform is only socially desirable if tax revenue is, in fact, translated…

Read more
September 2017
Central-Local Government Roles and Relationships in Property Taxation
by Tom Goodfellow

Should central or local governments be responsible for collection and administration of property taxes? There is great variation in practice across the continent, but one particularly significant divide is that between francophone and anglophone countries. The former commonly adopt centralised systems, while the latter usually decentralise key aspects of property taxation such as collection and…

Read more
September 2017
Strengthening IT Systems for Property Tax Reform
by Wilson Prichard & Paul Fish

The introduction of improved IT systems has long been hailed as a powerful – potentially transformative – tool for strengthening local property taxes. Yet in practice this promise has rarely been achieved on a sustainable basis in Africa, despite significant investment. The challenge lies in understanding why new IT systems have failed to deliver promised…

Read more
November 2017
Valuation for Property Tax Purposes
by Nyah Zebong, Paul Fish & Wilson Prichard

Improving processes for valuing properties lies at the heart of efforts to improve the overall effectiveness of property taxation. Effective property taxation is impossible without efficient property valuation. I practice, however, valuation rolls across most of Africa are incomplete and severely out-of-date, thus dramatically reducing potential property tax yield. This is, at least in part,…

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Connect with APTI

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APTItax

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za.nyah@ictd.ac

News and Events:

11 June 2018 - 13 June 2018
Past Event
African Property Tax Initiative Conference

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….

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Publications:

Practical Guidance Note: Training Manual for Implementing Property Tax Reform with a Points-Based Valuation
by Paul Fish

This paper shares the author’s on-going experience in supporting the implementation of property tax reform programmes in smaller urban centres and rural districts in Sub-Saharan Africa, covering more than 12 local governments over a period of more than 10 years. The paper presents a generic training manual, designed to offer practical guidance for property tax…

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February 2018
Policy implementation under stress: Central-local government relations in property tax collection in Tanzania
by Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, Merima Ali & Lucas Katera

Inter-organisational cooperation in revenue collection has received limited attention in the tax administration literature. Recent experiences from Tanzania offer a unique opportunity to examine opportunities and challenges facing such cooperation between central and local government agencies in a developing country context. The administration of property taxes (PT) in Tanzania has been oscillating between decentralised and…

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January 2018
Taxation, Property Rights and the Social Contract in Lagos
by Tom Goodfellow & Olly Owen

Major taxation reforms over the past decade have been interpreted as facilitating the transformation of Lagos from of a city seen as in permanent ‘crisis’ to a beacon of ‘megacity development’. Most attention has focused on Personal Income Taxation (PIT). Less attention has been devoted to another innovation – the property tax or Land Use…

Read more
September 2017
Linking Property Tax Revenue and Public Services
by Wilson Prichard

In practical terms most property tax reforms are, first and foremost, efforts to increase tax revenue. But the ultimate goal of tax reform is, of course, broader: expanding tax revenue in order to finance the provision of valuable publicly-provided goods and services. Tax reform is only socially desirable if tax revenue is, in fact, translated…

Read more
September 2017
Central-Local Government Roles and Relationships in Property Taxation
by Tom Goodfellow

Should central or local governments be responsible for collection and administration of property taxes? There is great variation in practice across the continent, but one particularly significant divide is that between francophone and anglophone countries. The former commonly adopt centralised systems, while the latter usually decentralise key aspects of property taxation such as collection and…

Read more
September 2017
Strengthening IT Systems for Property Tax Reform
by Wilson Prichard & Paul Fish

The introduction of improved IT systems has long been hailed as a powerful – potentially transformative – tool for strengthening local property taxes. Yet in practice this promise has rarely been achieved on a sustainable basis in Africa, despite significant investment. The challenge lies in understanding why new IT systems have failed to deliver promised…

Read more
November 2017
Valuation for Property Tax Purposes
by Nyah Zebong, Paul Fish & Wilson Prichard

Improving processes for valuing properties lies at the heart of efforts to improve the overall effectiveness of property taxation. Effective property taxation is impossible without efficient property valuation. I practice, however, valuation rolls across most of Africa are incomplete and severely out-of-date, thus dramatically reducing potential property tax yield. This is, at least in part,…

Read more
Taxing the urban boom in Tanzania: Central versus local government property tax collection
by Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, Merima Ali & Lucas Katera

Effective collection of property taxes requires constructive working relations between the central government revenue authority and the municipalities, independent of the mode of administration. Clear division of function and responsibility between the local and the central government is critical for effective policy implementation. The implementation of property taxes in Tanzania has seen major changes in…

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Property Taxation in Developing Countries
by Merima Ali, Odd-Helge Fjeldstad & Lucas Katera

Property tax (PT) raises on average revenues of less than 1 per cent of GDP in developing countries. In many African countries it contributes far less than 0.5 per cent. 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…

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Taxing the urban boom: property taxation in Africa
by Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, Merima Ali & Tom Goodfellow

The growth of Africa’s towns and cities has outpaced local governments’ capacity for service delivery in terms of management, infrastructure, and financing. As a result, many African towns and cities are now faced with a governance crisis. The restructuring of governmental functions and finances has entered the core of the development debate. Policy makers are…

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Blogs:

June 2018
by Nyah Zebong

The APTI in Madagascar Much attention has been paid recently to improving local government finances in Madagascar, and enhancing the participation of local governments in mobilising revenue. In October 2017 the Malagasy government invited the African Property Tax Initiative (APTI) to visit Antananarivo to explore ways in which APTI could support the authorities to reform…

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January 2016
by Rhiannon McCluskey

It is widely recognised that property taxation is the most viable, efficient, and progressive means of raising local government revenue, with significant positive implications for state-building and public accountability.  However, property tax collection remains very low in the developing world, and academic research on the topic is limited. For these reasons, the ICTD decided to…

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September 2015
by Mick Moore

What are property taxes? Broadly, they are taxes on the ownership, occupation or legal transfer of land and buildings. They take many forms, and go under many different names. The most familiar are regular annual charges payable by the owners or occupiers of urban residential or commercial premises. In Britain we call this the Council Tax….

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