Decentralisationis on the policy agenda in many countries and has been so over some time also in Angola. Demand for more decentralisation of government derives from a combination of people wanting to get more involved in the process of government and dissatisfaction with the results of centralised economic planning. Decentralisation reforms hold many promises – including local level democratisation and improved service delivery for the poor. However, available evidence is inconclusive on the impacts of decentralisation with respect to citizens’ welfare, governance and democratisation. It is a matter of fact that effective implementation often lacks behind the political rhetorics. And the effective delivery of promises also depends on a range of preconditions and the country specific context.

It is important to emphasise that decentralisation reform is about much more than technical adjustments of the division of responsibilities between different levels of government. It is very much about power and politics in the individual country. In this presentation I discuss some general principles of fiscal decentralisation, international experiences, and challenges and prospects facing the reform process in Angola. Many of the examples build on my own research in various countries in East and Southern Africa.

Odd-Helge Fjeldstad

Research Professor, Coordinator: Tax and Public Finance