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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
Partners: African Tax Institute, University of Pretoria
Current Project

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. This likely population growth will generate a significant increase in the demand for housing, social services and public utilities. It will also require significant infrastructure investment to support business development and to keep these businesses competitive in international markets. This will likely generate an increased demand for property taxation in African urban areas, and for improving the administration of this tax (McCluskey, Franzsen & Bahl 2017).

Globally local governments are under pressure to deliver basic services to their citizens. To fund amenities such as clean drinking water, waste management, adequate power supply and basic healthcare, sub-national/city administrations are under financial stress. The development of an integrated ICT revenue collection system provides the necessary platform to support municipal administration to more efficiently collect property tax and other own source revenues. Given the rapid rate of urbanization, further stress is experienced in many African cities.

As illustrated by recent developments in a number of Tanzanian cities, the development and implementation of an integrated information and communication technology (ICT) revenue collection system can provide the necessary platform to support municipal administration to more efficiently collect property tax as well as other own source revenues.

The main aim of this project is: To evaluate the contribution of Information Communication Technology to improving the collection of property tax revenue within local government.

To support this aim the following research objectives have been identified:
• To critically evaluate the existing body of knowledge in the context of ICT in own source revenue collection;
• To assess the shortcomings of traditional revenue collection methods with a view to identifying operational gaps;
• To evaluate the performance of ICT solutions in collecting revenue in a number of selected case study areas.