Property Taxation Imperatives for Africa
A Study of Four Cities
African countries are currently pressured by high urbanisation rates that threaten their ability to address the basic infrastructure and social needs of citizens. Globally, property taxes are utilised as a tool to generate revenue that supports infrastructure provision, but its use has not been effective in Africa. This study examines the trends in property tax administration in cities of four different countries in Africa. It presents an analysis of the lessons that can be learnt and improvements to be made. Using Lagos, Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam and Kigali as case studies, the study finds that although they have carried out recent property tax reforms which have led to remarkable outcomes in terms of coverage and revenues, opportunities to take advantage of the growing real estate development markets arising from rapid urbanisation have been missed. Lack of intra-governmental co-operation is also a threat to sustaining performance in some cases. The role of local governments has been very contentious with policy changes and controversies. The need for stakeholder involvement and redistributing revenues to local services remains unexplored in all four cases. However, the use of technology in identifying the tax base, updating cadastre, and collection, represents key opportunities to increase effectiveness. Recommendations include strengthening intra-governmental co-operation, using technology to capture new real estate development and supporting local government capacities as strategies to improve property tax policy and administration.