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Fiscal decentralisation – the devolution of revenue mobilisation and spending powers to lower levels of government – has become a main theme of governance over the past two decades. A sound revenue system for local governments is an essential pre-condition for the success of fiscal decentralisation. In addition to raising revenues, local revenue mobilisation has the potential to foster political and administrative accountability by empowering communities. However, local government financing in most African countries faces enormous challenges. Empirical research suggests that subnational revenue generation generally fails to meet needs and expectations. The principles guiding fiscal decentralisation in Africa is in practise overwhelmed by contextual factors and implementation constraints. The terrain does not fit the map.

Odd-Helge Fjeldstad

Research Professor, Coordinator: Tax and Public Finance