African Property Tax Initiative (APTI)

Discover the new APTI Library here: www.eldis.org/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.

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 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…

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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…

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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…

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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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za.nyah@ictd.ac

News and Events:

January 2019
news
APTI featured at Developing Urban Futures conference

The ICTD’s African Property Tax Initiative (APTI) was recently featured at the Urban Age conference in Addis Ababa. The conference, on the theme “Developing Urban Futures” was jointly organised by LSE Cities at the London School of Economics and the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft. It convened urban experts, policymakers and practitioners from sub-Saharan Africa and other…

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Publications:

January 2019
Policy Implementation Under Stress: Central-Local Government Relations in Property Tax Administration in Tanzania
by Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, Merima Ali & Lucas Katera

Purpose 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…

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Local Government Property Tax Administration and Collaboration with Central Government: Case Studies from Kenya
by Rose Wanjiru, Anne Wanyagathi Maina & Eldah Onsomu with Graeme Stewart-Wilson

Property taxes are an important revenue source for subnational governments. Across sub-Saharan Africa collection of property taxes is made up of several distinct processes, some situated at the national level, and some at the local level. Thus, inter-organisational cooperation and institution-based trust are essential for the successful implementation of property taxation. Because of the common…

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April 2019
Local Government Property Tax Administration and Collaboration with Central Government: Case Studies of Kiambu, Laikipia and Machakos Counties, Kenya
by Rose Wanjiru, Anne Wanyagathi Maina & Eldah Onsomu with Graeme Stewart-Wilson

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…

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How Local Authorities Can Exploit the Potential for Effective Property Taxes: A Case Study of Harare
by Munatswi Nengeze

Property tax is tax charged on real estates or immovable assets. The tax base may be on land only, land and improvements on the land, or improvements on the land only. For the purpose of this paper property tax shall be referred to as tax on all types of immovable properties, residential, commercial and industrial,…

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January 2019
Property Tax in African Secondary Cities: Insights from the Cases of Kisumu (Kenya) and M’Bour (Senegal)
by Liza Rose Cirolia & James Christopher Mizes

This working paper adopts an urban lens on property tax. It focuses specifically on how property tax operates in two African secondary cities, Kisumu (Kenya) and M’Bour (Senegal). The paper identifies three factors shaping the low levels of property tax collection in the two case cities. These are the misalignment between the spatial scale of…

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November 2018
The Role of Information Communication Technology to Enhance Property Tax Revenue in Africa: A Tale of Four Cities in Three Countries
by William McCluskey, Riël Franzsen , Mundia Kabinga & Chabala Kasese

Information communication technology (ICT) is an important tool to support local governments in their efforts to more efficiently administer property taxes and other own-source revenues. Increasingly, developing countries, including those in Africa, are managing large volumes of data on taxable properties and taxpayers within the ICT environment. With reference to four African cities, this paper…

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How Local Authorities Can Exploit the Potential for Effective Property Taxes: A Case Study of Harare
by Munatswi Nengeze

This paper explores administrative challenges that developing countries face in property tax administration. It is internationally acknowledged that local authorities play a vital role in enhancing a country’s economic growth and provision of public goods. Their activities rely on revenue collection. It is therefore in the public interest and the interest of all governments to…

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Property owners’ knowledge and attitudes towards property taxation in Tanzania
by Merima Ali, Odd-Helge Fjeldstad & Lucas Katera

Property taxation (PT) is high on the political agenda in Tanzania and considered a cornerstone of the Government’s efforts to strengthen broad based direct taxation. Because it is visible to taxpayers, and in principle linked to improved local services, PT holds a unique potential to act as a foundation for bargaining between taxpayers and governments…

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True Values
by Nyah Zebong & Wilson Prichard

Where property markets are still developing, there is little sales data on which to base valuations. As a result, it is more difficult to assign accurate property valuations, there is greater scope for abuse, and these valuations are more likely to be contested.In peri-urban or rural areas where property markets are almost non-existent, a value…

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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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Blogs:

March 2019
by Fred Andema, Nyah Zebong & Robert Raikes Mugangaizi

Local governments (LGs) across Uganda have recently been looking for ways to improve yields from their property tax systems. The main reasons for this growing interest are the rapid urbanisation taking place in the country, and the increased pressure from city dwellers for public services. Some property tax reforms have shown success in identification, valuation…

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March 2019
by Alexander Chirambo & Rhiannon McCluskey

Mzuzu is the third largest city in Malawi. Before 2013, it collected very little property tax per year: K50 million ($68,000 USD) on average. However, with the implementation of the ReMoP property tax system, revenues have increased seven-fold to over 350 million in 2018, which has allowed the city to improve services including garbage collection,…

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October 2018
by Nyah Zebong

Property Tax Reform in Senegal In recent years there has been much focus in Africa on adopting forms of taxation that enhance economic growth, but also ensure equitable, stable and sustainable sources of funding to governments. This is true for revenue mobilisation efforts that benefit both national and sub-national governments across the continent. The need…

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Research Projects:

Current Project
Bringing Property Owners into the Tax Net in Senegal
Project Researchers: Justine Knebelmann, Paris School of Economics, Victor Pouliquen & Bassirou Sarr

The IMF and World Bank revenue statistics show that, between 2000 and 2012, property taxes represent on average of 0.1 to 0.2% of GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa (0.1% in Senegal). In OECD countries, the average range is between 2-3% of GDP. This poor performance suggests considerable scope for improvement. In Senegal, as in most developing…

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Current Project
Developing Points Based Valuation for Property Taxation in Senegal and Sierra Leone
Project Researchers: Nicolas Orgeira & Wilson Prichard

The African Property Tax Initiative (APTI) has increasingly been approached by governments in sub-Saharan Africa interested in exploring simplified approaches to property valuation for property taxation. This interest grows out of ICTD research which has demonstrated the efficacy of this approach and several secondary cities in Africa, and which has more generally argued for the merits…

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Past Project
Boosting the Enforcement and Collection of Property Rates: Learning from the Experiences of Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA)
Project Researchers: Prof D.J Bakibinga, Makerere University & Dan Ngabarino, Makerere University

This study will evaluate the experience of KCCA in the enforcement and collection of property rates with an objective of understanding some of the reasons why the Authority has been more successful than the rest of the urban authorities and local governments (four of these will be studied alongside KCCA). In particular the study will…

Project Outputs

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Past Project
The Relationship Between Local and Central Governments in Property Tax Administration
Project Researchers: Rose Wanjiru, Centre for Economic Governance

The main objective of this research is to examine the collaborations between national and County Governments in property tax administration with the aim of elaborating the policy frameworks and practices; and to articulate the general challenges in Kenya and specifically in Kiambu and Laikipia Counties; and to provide policy recommendations based on the findings.

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Past Project
Property Tax in African Secondary Cities: Insights from the cases of Kisumu (Kenya) and M’Bour (Senegal)
Project Researchers: Liza Rose Cirolia , African Centre for Cities & James Christopher Mizes, UC Berkeley

This working paper adopts an urban lens on property tax. It focuses specifically on how property tax operates in two African secondary cities, Kisumu (Kenya) and M’Bour (Senegal). The paper identifies three factors shaping the low levels of property tax collection in the two case cities. These are the misalignment between the spatial scale of…

Project Outputs

Working Paper
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Past Project
The Enigma of Central and Local Governments Relationship and the Impact on Property Tax Administration in Ghana
Project Researchers: Fariya Mohiuddin & Frank L. K. Ohemeng

This project is exploring a number of different questions. What challenges do the relationship between the central and local governments pose in property tax administration in Ghana? How has the relationship between the central and local government continued to affect the administration of property tax in Ghana? Why is decentralisation so problematic in Ghana? What…

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Past Project
The Role that ICT can Play in Improving Property Tax Collection in Africa: Three Case Studies
Project Researchers: Prof Riël Franzsen, African Tax Institute, Prof William McCluskey, African Tax Institute, Dr Mundia Kabinga, University of Cape Town & Chabala Kasese, Zambia Revenue Authority

Africa is rapidly urbanizing. The number of large African cities with populations between 5 and 10 million is also expected to increase, from three to twelve by 2030 (United Nations 2014). However, the fastest-growing urban agglomerations are medium-sized cities and cities with less than 1 million inhabitants. Durand-Lasserve (2016) provides startling projections regarding urbanization stating that between 2015 and 2050 (i.e., in only 36 years) urbanization in Africa will grow from 38 percent to 55 percent, implying an additional 790 million urban inhabitants.

Project Outputs

Working Paper
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Past Project
An Analysis of the Relationship Between the State and Councils in Administering the Land Tax in Benin
Project Researchers: Kelly Labart, Bassirou Sarr & Damas Hounsounon

This research is looking into how we can maximise efforts to collect property tax and whether or not councils are better off by delegating this task to tax authorities. If the answer to this question is yes, then ways in which we can encourage the tax authorities to maximise efforts to collect this tax will…

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Understanding the Potential Role of the Property Tax in Addis Ababa
Project Researchers: Gabriella Yolanda Carolini, Fitsum A. Gelaye, Massachusetts Institute of Technology & Tigist K. Temesgen, Addis Ababa University

Urban real estate markets on the African continent are booming with construction and international investment (Bradford, 2014; Davis, 2015; National Association of Realtors, 2016; Salinas, 2013; The Business Year, 2014a, 2014b). A few trends spur this bullish approach to urban Africa real estate. First, demographic estimates for the continent—including urban population growth and the proportion…

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