Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Southern Africa \ Local government finance

Resourcing local government remains a central challenge to effective decentralisation. This section has content relating to different models of fiscal decentralisation, options for identifying new sources of local revenue, such as local property tax; and strategies for improving collection and deployment of own-source revenue. It also offers information about improving the borrowing potential of local government, innovative financing models such as municipal bonds, shared services, and public private partnerships.



Land-based financing in sub-Saharan African cities

Decentralization reforms and rapid urbanization place increasing pressure on African urban authorities. In response, land-based finance has been gaining popularity within development discourses as a method of increasing local autonomy and financing local government infrastructure provision. This paper discusses the conceptual basis for land-based finance, the instruments that form part of this approach, and the actual application in several African cities. Drawing on three case studies (Addis Ababa, Harare and Nairobi) and a high-level scan of 29 developments in various African cities, we show how land-based finance is being implemented in practice and discuss the potential for wider uptake. We conclude that African city governments are using land-based financing, albeit in inconsistent ways. We argue that urban authorities should consider the more extensive and progressive use of land-based financing instruments, despite the constraints imposed by both technical and political conditions. A progressive agenda for local government finance in African cities should take land-based finance seriously, as well as the local practices and institutional arrangements through which it operates.

Author: Stephen Berrisford, Liza Rose Cirolia, Ian Palmer Publisher: Sage Publication year: 2018


This report – an outcome of an expert group meeting held on the challenge of local government financing in developing countries – documents both the challenges and solutions related to the ability of local governments to mobilize revenues from local resources. The report also identifies successful governance mechanisms for efficient and equitable provision of public services in metropolitan areas of developing countries, and shares experiences and methods to making public service provision more viable in peri-urban areas of large cities and in smaller urban centres of these countries.

Author: United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) Publisher: United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) Publication year: 2015

Municipal Finances A Handbook for Local Governments

This book reviews lessons learned about intergovernmental relations, metropolitan finance, financial management, revenues management, expenditures management, public assets management, external funding, and municipal finances performance measurement. It spans the arc from decentralization to transparency and accountability and travels the less-charted waters of assets management, creditworthiness, response to financial crisis, reporting mechanisms to various levels of government and civil representation. 

Author: The World Bank Publisher: The World Bank Publication year: 2014

Local Government Finance: The Challenges of the 21st Century, Second Global Report on Decentralization and Local Democracy

This report builds on the 2008 First Global Report on Decentralization and Local Democracy (GOLD I), which provides a broad based overview of local government systems around the world. GOLD II focuses on a specific aspect of decentralization—the fiscal architecture and performance of local governments. This topic was chosen for GOLD II because fiscal architecture is fundamental to ensuring that local governments can deliver public services and function successfully in meeting other essential responsibilities.

Author: United Cities and Local Governments Publisher: United Cities and Local Governments Publication year: 2010

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