How African cities can pay for their own upkeep

“WE PAY our money and you see how it looks,” says Aggrey Batwala, leaning out of his minibus in Kampala’s muddy taxi park. Shared taxis used to pay city authorities 120,000 shillings ($32) a month for the right to ferry commuters into the Ugandan capital. But in September indignant drivers stopped coughing up. They later complained to the president, who ordered that the levy be halved. The city appealed against his decision and the drivers still aren’t paying. The stand-off could cost it 21bn shillings this year.

Kampala shows why African cities struggle to raise revenues, squeezed as they are between poor citizens and overweening central governments. But it also proves that doing better is possible. In 2010-11 the city collected just 30bn shillings (see chart). Last year it raised 89bn…

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