New international degree to strengthen tax administrations in Africa

By Dr Hyun-Ju Koh


In mid-October, 27 employees of revenue authorities and ministries of finance from across sub-Saharan Africa will start studying in Berlin as the first cohort to be accepted for the new Master of Arts in Tax Policy and Tax Administration. The programme will kick off with an official Welcome Function hosted by Thomas Silberhorn, Parlamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

This postgraduate degree, developed jointly by GIZ’s Good Financial Governance (GFG) in Africa Programme, the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) and the Berlin School of Economics and Law, is the first of its kind – it combines relevant knowledge on the topics of international tax policy and tax administration with governance and leadership from the different fields of economics, law, and administrative sciences, and is expected to greatly boost capacity in tax administrations in Africa.

The programme was designed for African tax officials, policy-makers and tax practitioners who wish to expand their expertise in tax policy and tax administration. The course was explicitly designed on the basis of partner needs and the African context. With study phases at two renowned universities – the Berlin School of Economics and Law and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg – the academic exchange between German and African students and lecturers, as well as the combination of theory and practice, make this course unique and attractive.

By the application deadline of 16 May 2014, 116 applications that fulfilled all requirements were received. The applications represented 17 African countries and almost equal shares of men and women. ATAF and GIZ preselected 40 of the 116 applicants. After interviews with the Berlin School of Economics and Law, 27 employees of revenue authorities and ministries of finance were admitted. The final group still represented some 13 different countries and 52% of the 27 admitted students were women. Four in five students of the degree will be between 25 and 35 years old, favouring students with a basic amount of work experience in their tax administrations.