IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

User Charge Financing of Urban Public Services in Africa

Expansion and improvement of public services is essential to improving quality of life and productivity in developing countries. Some African countries have been diligent in expanding the infrastructure necessary to provide public services, but unfortunately, most have not done a very good job of paying for them. Imposition of user charges to fund public services would go far toward eliminating the financial problems faced by many African countries in providing services and would raise additional revenues that could be used to pay for other government expenditures. In addition to the financial benefits of user charges, there are many other benefits from their imposition. User charges have the potential to greatly improve the public sector’s efficiency, to impart a more equitable distribution of the financing burden of public services, to provide better information regarding infrastructure needs, and to improve the quality of existing services.This paper is organized as follows. Section 2 discusses the general nature of user charges: what they are, the services upon which they should be imposed, and evidence of the willingness to pay them. Section 3 discusses the extent to which user charges have been imposed in Africa in the past. Section 4 articulates the theory behind the efficient pricing of public services, resulting in a guide for setting appropriate user charges - in general as well as under special but common circumstances. Section 5 addresses the revenue implications of user charge financing, including the tendency of efficient prices to raise adequate revenues, ways to recover costs when efficient prices lead to deficits, and the attractiveness of user charges for taxation. Section 6 examines equity considerations of user charges. Finally, the analysis is brought together in section 7 by means of a case study of water supply services in Egypt. Throughout the paper, special attention is paid to the practical issues of levying user charges in Africa, issues which are too often overlooked in the literature. Concluding comments are provided in Section 8.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU with number paper0004.

in new window

Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jul 2000
Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper0004
Contact details of provider: Phone: 404-413-0235
Fax: 404-413-0244
Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Anderson, Dennis, 1989. "Infrastructure pricing policies and the public revenue in African countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 525-542, April.
  2. Yew-Kwang Ng & Mendel Weisser, 1974. "Optimal Pricing with a Budget Constraint—The Case of the Two-part Tariff," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(3), pages 337-345.
  3. Whittington, Dale & Okorafor, Apia & Okore, Augustine & McPhail, Alexander, 1990. "Cost recovery strategy for rural water delivery in Nigeria," Policy Research Working Paper Series 369, The World Bank.
  4. Baumol, William J & Bradford, David F, 1970. "Optimal Departures from Marginal Cost Pricing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(3), pages 265-283, June.
  5. Martin S. Feldstein, 1972. "Equity and Efficiency in Public Sector Pricing: The Optimal Two-Part Tariff," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 86(2), pages 175-187.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper0004. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Paul Benson)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.