Against the recent wave of digitalisation in low-income countries, this review paper wants to take stock of what we know on the main challenges with data and technologies in tax administration. By a thorough review of the existing evidence on the topic, our researchers Fabrizio Santoro, Laura Muñoz, Giovanni Occhiali and Giulia Mascagni aim at exploring the main preconditions or “basics” that need to be in place in order to unlock the potential of digitalisation. The evidence review is accompanied by additional original evidence produced by the descriptive analysis of administrative data from a selected pool of countries, as well as by insights from in-depth interviews from tax officials in Africa. The cross-country lessons synthetized in this paper will help policy-makers and donors in better prioritising tasks and goals in their digital transformation journey.


Fabrizio Santoro

Fabrizio is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, and the Research Lead for the second component of the ICTD's DIGITAX Research Programme. His main research interests relate to governance, public finance, and taxation, with a strong focus on impact evaluation methodologies and statistical analysis. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex.

Laura Muñoz Perez

Laura Munoz is the former Programme Lead of DIGITAX Programme.

Giulia Mascagni

Giulia Mascagni is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies and Research Director of the ICTD. Her main area of work is taxation, but she also has research interest in public finance, evaluation of public policy, and aid effectiveness. She is an economist by training, holding a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex. Her main geographical interest lies in African countries, with a particular focus on Ethiopia and Rwanda.

Giovanni Occhiali

Dr Giovanni Occhiali is a Development Economist based at the Institute of Development Studies, where he works on a number of projects related to Tax Administration and Compliance, Tax and Governance and co-leads ICTD’s capacity building programme together with Dr Max Gallien. His research focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa, and outside of the field of taxation his main interests are energy economics and industrial policies. He holds a PhD from the University of Birmingham and prior to joining ICTD, he was a Researcher at the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei and an Overseas Development Institute Fellow at the National Revenue Authority of Sierra Leone.