African Studies Review Volume 60, Issue 1

This article provides a ground-level view of market taxation in two local government areas in Ghana’s relatively disadvantaged northern region. It describes a system shaped by informal practices that are grounded in social relationships and collective norms, which sometimes foster greater equity and in other cases serve to reinforce existing inequalities. The evidence suggests the need for a more nuanced understanding of the highly informal and socially embedded realities of local tax collection, and the possibility that improved outcomes could be achieved by “working with the grain” of these inescapable local realities, while seeking to minimize potential costs of informality.


Wilson Prichard

Wilson Prichard is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, and Chief Executive Officer of the International Centre for Tax and Development. His research focuses on the relationship between taxation and citizen demands for improved governance in sub-Saharan Africa.

Vanessa van den Boogaard

Vanessa van den Boogaard is a Research Fellow at the ICTD and a Senior Research Associate at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. She completed her PhD thesis on informal revenue generation and statebuilding in Sierra Leone, and has ongoing research on the topic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia. Vanessa leads the ICTD’s new programme on civil society engagement in tax reform and co-leads the research programme on informal taxation.