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Taxation in Africa from Colonial Times to Present Evidence from former French colonies 1900-2018

Abstract

This paper sheds light on the fiscal trajectories of 18 former French colonies in Africa from colonial times to the present. Building upon own previous work about colonial public finance (Cogneau et al., 2021), we compile a novel dataset by combining previously available data with recently digitized data from historical archives, to produce continuous and comparable public revenue data series from 1900 to 2018. This allows us to study the evolution of the level and composition of fiscal revenues in the post-colonial decades, with a special focus on the critical juncture of independence. We find that very few countries achieved significant progress in fiscal capacity between the end of the colonial period and today, if we set aside income drawn from mineral resources. This is not explained by a lasting collapse of fiscal capacity at the time of independence. From 1960 to today, the reliance on mineral resource revenues increased on average and dependence on international commodity prices persisted, with few exceptions. The relative contribution of trade taxes declined after the structural adjustments, and lost trade revenues were not compensated by a sufficient increase in domestic taxes. However, for the most recent period, we do note an improvement in the capacity to collect taxes on the domestic economy.
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halshs-03420664 , version 1 (09-11-2021)

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Denis Cogneau, Yannick Dupraz, Justine Knebelmann, Sandrine Mesplé-Somps. Taxation in Africa from Colonial Times to Present Evidence from former French colonies 1900-2018. 2021. ⟨halshs-03420664⟩
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