Land-based financing in sub-Saharan African cities

Berrisford, S., Cirolia, L. R., & Palmer, I. (2018). Land-based financing in sub-Saharan African cities. Environment and Urbanization, 30(1), 35–52. doi:10.1177/0956247817753525

Cape Town
Publication type
Scientific article (peer-reviewed)
Urban Public Finance
DOI Title
Land-based financing in sub-Saharan African cities
Environment and Urbanization
0956-2478 1746-0301
Stephen Berrisford Liza Rose Cirolia Ian Palmer
Published year
African Cities Land-based financing Infrastructure land value capture local government finance



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.

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