Developing Revenue Management Capacity in New Urban Governments: Raising Revenue to Reduce Poverty in Africa

Copyright © William Attwell

Principal Investigator: Nic Cheeseman

The aim of this project is to assist African governments to raise taxes in a way that does not push poor citizens into poverty, so that they can use the revenue generated to provide public services and improve the conditions of the worst off. Dr Nic Cheeseman will work with Oxfam, DFID, the World Bank and UN Habitat and the governments of Cape Town, Lagos, and Nairobi, to develop an applied and interactive set of policy tools to help sub-national governments in Africa more accurately model and manage their revenue streams. This includes helping county, state and regional governments to think through:

  • Potential opportunities for revenue generation.
  • How public support can be built for tax payment.
  • Ways of forming reform alliances that include both citizens and influential business interests.
  • How political participation can help to both inform citizens and encourage tax compliance.

Project Objectives

Dr Nic Cheeseman and his team are working with UN Habitat, Oxfam, DFID, and the governments of Cape Town and Lagos, and county governments in Kenya, to:

  • develop a set of policy tools to help sub-national governments in Africa more accurately model, and hence manage, their revenue streams;
  • design stronger and more effective systems of public participation;
  • increase public willingness to pay tax and enforce tax compliance in support of efforts to increase internally generated revenue;
  • share best practices in these areas with sub-national governments around the world.

External Partners

UN Habitat

The Lagos State Government



Office of the Executive Mayor of Cape Town in South Africa

Project Outputs

The project has achieved a deep engagement with a number of key policy makers including UN Habitat and has provided input into the guidance offered by the Kenyan government to county governments on public participation. Key outputs of the project include:

  • Writing the chapters for a UN Habitat handbook on Finance for City Leaders, that will be distributed to urban governments around the world.
  • Designing a training package for City Leaders that it is hoped will form the basis of training programme that will be run through UN Habitat and Oxford University.
  • Drafting the material for an official report of the Kenyan Treasury on public participation and revenue generation at the county level, which will be disseminated to all 47 counties.
  • Writing a policy brief for the high profile Africa Policy Review, one of the leading sources of news and analysis on Africa’s development agenda.
  • Holding a major dissemination workshop at held in conjunction with the Law School and the Institute for Public Policy and Governance of Strathmore University, which was attended by representatives from a number of prominent governmental and civil society organizations.
  • The creation of a new portal for the presentation and sharing of research and policy guidance on taxation and sub-national government in conjunction with the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD), which you can access here:


Cheeseman, Nic, Lynch, Gabrielle and Justin Willis, 'Decentralization in Kenya: The Governance of Governors', open access journal article published in the Journal of Modern African Studies, January 2016,

Cheeseman, Nic and Burbidge, Dominic. ‘Raising revenue in Africa: New solutions to old problems’. Africa Policy Review 2016, click here to access

Cheeseman, Nic, 'While devolution may work, is it sustainable?' Daily Nation, 8 Aug 2015.

Cheeseman, Nic and Burbidge, Dominic, 'How to raise revenue without upsetting voters'. Daily Nation, 22 Aug 2015.

Cheeseman, Nic, 'How to achieve effective public participation'. Daily Nation, 20 Sep 2015.

Burbidge, Dominic, 'The Dawn of Devolved Government in Kenya'. Oxford Human Rights Hub, 13 Jan 2016.

Burbidge, Dominic, 'Democracy versus Diversity: Ethnic Representation in a Devolved Kenya'. Working paper, Feb 2016.

Burbidge, Dominic, 'Security and Devolution in Kenya: Struggles in Applying the Constitution's Fourth Schedule'. Working paper, Sep 2016.


ESRC Impact Acceleration Account


Impact Acceleration Project

Project Start / End

Mar 2015 - Mar 2017

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