Fiscal Decentralization, Comparative Data, and Sustainable Development: What Do We (Need To) Know About Financing Subnational Governments in Africa?
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Central to the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in urban Africa will be the establishment of robust multilevel governance and public finance systems that can be responsive to local context. There have been numerous decentralization reforms across Africa over the past 30 years. However, in many countries, the fiscal architecture of multilevel government and the fiscal empowerment of subnational governments remain uneven and contested. Drawing on subnational fiscal data on 21 African countries, this chapter explores subnational fiscal decentralization and empowerment in Africa. This chapter makes three arguments. First, due to the incredible local diversity across the continent, there is limited comparative data on subnational finance in Africa. Second, the available data foreground several challenges, including limited fiscal transparency and different fiscal accounting and reporting styles, meaning that existing fiscal data sets need to be considered within their individual contexts. Finally, there is considerable conflation between “local government” and “city government” with serious implications for fiscal decentralization that is tailored to the specific needs of rural, urban, and metropolitan areas. Building on these findings, the chapter argues that the prospects for financing sustainable development in Africa will depend on a better understanding of the complexities of the local fiscal space.
Keywords - Public finance, Subnational fiscal data, Fiscal decentralization, Multilevel governance
- Book Chapter