Taxing Africa: Coercion, Reform and Development

Authors: Mick Moore, Wilson Prichard & Odd-Helge Fjeldstad
Publisher: Zed Books

Abstract:

Taxing Africa is an accessible and comprehensive introduction to the crucial debates around taxation and development in Africa.

The book offers a fascinating insight into the key issues facing policy makers, tax collectors, civil society activists and donors working to increase revenues to finance sustainable development in Africa. From the colonial roots of taxation on the continent, to current struggles to reduce aid dependence and shape a more just international tax system, Taxing Africa provides a “concise and masterly” (Foreign Affairs) overview, focusing on critical questions of taxation and governance, accountability, and fairness.

While demonstrating the real progress made, the book examines the critical challenges that remain, including tax avoidance by multinational companies, corruption, and the regressive nature of systems where elites often evade taxes while ordinary citizens are burdened by complex webs of ‘informal’ taxation. As a deeply political process, the authors explore the potential for popular engagement to overcome the resistance of vested interests and create locally-owned agendas and strategies for reform.

Buy the book from Zed Press (paperback or eBook), the South African edition from Best Red books, or download the open access chapters here.

Reviews

‘This incisive book, by well-known tax and development experts, reveals the successes and failures, challenges and opportunities of taxation in Africa. Recommended reading for every finance and treasury official in Africa and beyond.’
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organization

‘Taxation remains at the heart of the expression of sovereignty. Too many post-colonial states have ignored this function and consequently lost the ability to shape policy. Taxing Africa refocuses the debate, one as much about the quality of democracy as it is about the rates of taxation.
Trevor Manuel, former Minister of Finance for South Africa

‘A manifesto on how Africa can diminish its reliance on aid and fund its own development. Policy makers and development practitioners will find in this book a combination of powerful advocacy and a new way forward.’
Donald Kaberuka, former President of the African Development Bank

‘The authors apply their extensive practical experience and analytical acumen to provide a level-headed and accessible account of the key tax challenges (and opportunities) that the continent faces — as well as suggesting ways ahead.’
Michael Keen, Deputy Director of the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department

‘Examines a highly important and timely issue which features high on the agenda of policy makers. The book will generate substantial interest and attention among policy makers, analysts and civil society organizations.’
Léonce Ndikumana, former Director of Research and Operations, African Development Bank

‘Remarkable in scope, Taxing Africa will surprise, inform, and challenge policy makers, tax experts, and anyone interested in ensuring African countries have financial resources to fund economic development.’
Eric M. Zolt, UCLA School of Law, and co-founder of the African Tax Institute

‘Emphasizes the importance of history, culture and politics in shaping taxation, and offers new insight into how to approach reform. If you are working on African fiscal affairs, this book belongs on your shelf.’
Roy Bahl, Georgia State University

‘An accessible and comprehensive introduction to the historical, political and economic context of taxation in African countries. It will help launch any student or professional venturing into the field of tax systems in these developing and emerging economies.’
Graham Glenday, Duke Center for International Development, Duke University

‘This short and well-written book provides both an excellent overview of taxation issues in Africa and a stimulating introduction to the political economy of policy reform in general. Both old hands and newcomers can learn much here.’
Richard Bird, University of Toronto (Emeritus)

Table of Contents

1. Why Does Tax Matter?

2. A New Tax Era in Africa?

3. Is Africa the Victim of Global Forces?

4. What Can Africa Do in the Face of International Tax Challenges?

5. Extractives and Extraction: Taxing Oil, Gas and Minerals

6. Taxing at National Level: Rising to the Challenge?

7. Small Taxes and Large Burdens: Informal and Sub-National Revenues

8. Does Taxation Lead to Improved Governance?

9. The Way Forward

Bibliography

Glossary of Terms

Endnotes

About the authors

Mick Moore is a Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies and a Senior Fellow of the International Centre for Tax and Development.

Wilson Prichard is an Associate Professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, and the CEO of the International Centre for Tax and Development.

Odd-Helge Fjeldstad is Research Professor at Chr. Michelsen Institute, Bergen, Norway, Extraordinary Professor at the African Tax Institute, University of Pretoria, and Senior Fellow at the International Centre for Tax and Development.