Capital of Mali, Bamako is undoubtedly the economic and political center of the country. Having no digital transformation plan at this time, the Bamako District has chosen to join the ASToN network to undertake work aimed at setting up an electronic tax system. The ASToN project takes in the entire Bamako District, representing six municipalities. The Bamako District performs tasks requiring extensive equipments and coordination between the municipalities.
Thanks to the development of a digital solution, the project benefits in terms of increased tax collections will allow the authority to invest more in its underfunded public services or human resources, and thus improve the daily quality of life of citizens.
Bamako in figures
- Population: 3 007 122 inhabitants (2019 rating)
- Surface area: 267 km²
- Population density: 11 262/km²
- Local authority budget: 48 347 588 550 f cfa/ 73 813 112 Euro
- Smartphone penetration rate: 40 à 60 %
- Internet access rate: 20 à 40 %
What does the city mean by “smart city”?
For Bamako, a smart city is resilient, resource and energy efficient, with fluid access to basic social and technical services for its citizens. In terms of infrastructure, the city has reliable and secure data, and is equipped with connectivity infrastructure.
In terms of administration, a smart city is one that has a clear vision of a digital transition, and optimises rev- enue growth through accountable and transparent rev- enue collection. Importantly for government structure in Bamako, smart city decisions are semi-connected, as part of a semi-autonomous, networked city.
Bamako’s chosen policy area is E-Tax
Bamako wants to address the sale of vehicle tax stickers. Stickers show that drivers have paid their tax for the year, and are normally sold between the months of January and March, after which drivers are usually fined for not displaying one.
However, the procedure for sale of these stickers generates frustration, because the points of sale are not able to deal with the sheer level of demand that comes from roughly 500,000 motorbike owners a year. During the period of sale there are often kilometre-long queues to buy permits, which causes a lot of wasted time and frustration and often means people resort to buying forged copies of motorbike vehicle stickers. The effect on revenue is notice- able. Revenue generated by vehicle sticker sales is far lower than would be expected for the amount of vehicles on the road, pointing to a system that is opaque and undersubscribed. An improvement of the vehicle tax system would be measurable by an increase in tax revenue and improved satisfaction from those purchasing vehicle stickers.
Findings: the starting point for addressing these problems
The following findings set out the starting point for Bamako as they work to address E-Tax. Based on research conducted over the course of Phase 1, they describe the interlinked strengths and challenges that need to be taken into account.
The problem area is well defined and offers spillover effects for the city authority
The District of Bamako has identified a very concrete problem that has potential for digital technology to relieve. Recent partnerships to establish digital systems at Points of Sale in markets bodes well for the ability of the city authority to make similar ones. The spillover effects of the project on increased taxation are strong, and may let the authority invest more in their financially lacking public services or human resources.
Top-level commitment and citizen readiness is not matched by required resources
While citizens are ready, keen and equipped to participate in digital services, and there is strong political backing from the mayor, there have been difficulties in realising projects. This is due to an overall lack of resources, as well as low enthusiasm in the communes to engage with a digital project.
Local actors need to be integrated and rallied around a common strategy
The communes and the District authority tend to be fragmented, and services that do have a technical component are not connected to one another. There is an opportunity for the District of Bamako to create a clear digital strategy and vision to mobilise these actors.
Digital systems within the local authority are lacking
The town hall has a low level of computer equipment and internal digital systems. This is being addressed somewhat by putting internet connectivity in every council office, and the project to create a local intranet for the local authorities. However, a full digital audit has never been completed, and resources available to the local authority are severely lacking.
Many local government departments have no internet connection, and have very little in the way of digital hardware or infrastructure. The electricity required to maintain digital systems and infrastructure for the communes is also of concern.
The Regional Development Agency is well placed to be the project lead
As owner of projects for regional development, the RDA has solid technical expertise, and strong experience forming partnerships with a wide range of actors, including finding new opportunities for funding. However, it is only now that the Agency has begun working on a digital-specific project, and does not have its own IT department.