Chapter 13Taxation in Africa since colonial times

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Abel Gwaindepi


This chapter focuses on taxation in Africa since 1900. Using existing data and insights from the literature, the chapter documents taxes collected by colonial and post-colonial states, exploring what was taxed, the types of taxes, the tax revenue patterns and the socio-political contexts shaping taxation policies. It begins by discussing the fundamental principles of taxation and forms of direct and indirect taxes imposed by the colonial and post-colonial states. During the colonial period, a distinction was made between the types of taxes paid by Africans and those paid by the European settlers. The chapter also discusses taxation in the post-colonial period, documenting tax revenue patterns and new taxes introduced, emphasizing the prominent role of consumption taxes which became a dominant source, in the context of many taxation challenges that continue to limit revenue mobilization in Africa.


Gwaindepi, Abel (2023). “Taxation in Africa since colonial times”, In Ewout Frankema, Ellen Hillbom, Ushehwedu Kufakurinani and Felix Meier zu Selhausen (eds.), The History of African Development: An Online Textbook for a New Generation of African Students and Teachers. African Economic History Network.


Feature image: Hut tax receipt North East Rhodesia 1902 from Pamusoroi!.