Working Paper 148

The adoption of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the public sector, including for tax administration, has been hailed as potentially transformational over the last few decades. Its impact has been less far-reaching than imagined. A literature examining the determinants of – and obstacles to – ICT adoption arose as a result, almost exclusively focusing on the experience of high-income countries. However, understanding the experience of adoption in low-income countries is equally important, especially given the potential role that ICTs can play in tackling various development issues, including increasing mobilisation of domestic revenue. To help fill this gap, we present two in-depth case studies of the process of adopting an integrated tax administration system (ITAS) in Uganda and Sierra Leone, based on a series of semi-structured interviews with members of the respective revenue authorities and ministries of finance. Our analysis shows that many of the factors that facilitate and impede the adoption process are the same as those identified in high-income countries. However, we also identify some factors that are more likely to be relevant for low-income countries. These include the impact of the timeline for disbursing donor funding, the processes donors require to be used for procurement, and the quality of legacy data to be migrated into the new system. The need to embark on change management and re-engineering business processes was also recognised more fully than might have been expected in countries with relatively little prior experience in e-government services.


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.

Doris Akol

Doris Akol is a Ugandan lawyer and consultant on revenue administration. She is currently the chair of the ICTD’s Centre Advisory Group, and a Senior Economist at the IMF Fiscal Affairs Department. She was formerly the Senior Policy and Engagement Advisor with ICTD Digitax Programme. Prior to that she was the Commissioner General at the Uganda Revenue Authority, a position she held until March 2020.

Philip M. Kargbo

Philip M. Kargbo is the Senior Director of Monitoring, Research and Planning at the National Revenue Authority in Sierra Leone, where he directs research on revenue mobilisation, and leads corporate planning, statistics and revenue forecasting. He directs and conducts impact analysis of proposed revenue-related policies and monitors institutional deliverables. He has also been the focal point for international partners providing technical assistance to the National Revenue Authority.