Success and Failure in eGovernment Projects

Success/Failure Case Study No.10

Starting Up the Cameroon Department of Tax's Web Site

Case Study Author

Kenhago Tazo Olivier (


The Cameroon Department of Tax has a Web-based mechanism for publishing to, and interacting with, Cameroon citizens and businesses. It uses the Internet and a variety of database and Web publishing software.

Application Description

The Web site is intended to publish tax-related data. That data is particularly aimed at businesses with the site giving details of corporate tax structures, laws, guidelines and procedures, and the annual business tax calendar and responsibilities. There is guidance on writing and presenting a tax declaration. The general tax code and some scholarly papers on the tax system are also available.

Application Purpose

The purpose of the Web site is to provide Cameroonian taxpayers with quick, easy access to information. A particular concern has been to provide information on payment and refund procedures and locations, and details of the tax tribunal system. This should reduce opportunities for public officials to demand corrupt payments in return for such information, as has occurred previously. The Web site was also aimed at foreign investors, to help them understand the Cameroon tax system.


Public officials working in the Department of Tax will be an important stakeholder group. Two groups stand to gain from better access to information and procedures: a) taxpayers: both citizens and businesses, and b) foreign investors. Accountants and others who intervene between taxpayer and government will also be assisted.

Impact: Costs and Benefits

Prior to Web site creation in November 2001, the Cameroon tax system was a 'black box' as far as most taxpayers were concerned. The 'what, how and where' of procedures was not known by most taxpayers. As a result, procedures depended on individual whim not impersonal guidelines, and corruption was rife. By mid-2002, the site home page had registered around 3,500 hits, making it the third most-visited site after the Prime Minister's and Minister of Communication's. In six months of operation, about 150 papers (e.g. tax codes) have been downloaded. This may have substituted for some printing and distribution of documents. Taxpayers are now better informed. There is also better dialogue between academics and the tax service, with 60 scholarly papers available on the Web site. There are no figures available to judge costs, savings or impacts on corruption.

Evaluation: Failure or Success?

The Web site, to date, can - at best - be judged a partial success. It has provided online information about the tax system. The value of simple access to information should not be underestimated, particularly in the context of information poverty and poor information flows that characterises many developing countries. However, the Web site has yet to have any significant impact. First, because the numbers using the site are very small. Second, because the site has only reached the first stage of Web development: publishing (and publishing only in French when English is an important language in certain parts of Cameroon). It will have greater impact if it attains the second stage (interacting) or third stage (transacting).

Enablers/Critical Success Factors

  1. Promotion of the Web site . An information campaign was undertaken to raise awareness about the Web site.
  2. Importance of tax . The importance of tax in taxpayers' lives helps increase the likelihood that they will make use of the Web site.
  3. Strategic guidance . The Web site was created within a government-wide strategic framework that has provided guidance for Web projects in government.


  1. Low Internet penetration . Less than 3% of Cameroonians have Internet access, and there is no access in rural areas. This greatly constrains the potential impact of any Web-based e-government project.
  2. Publishing-only approach . If taxpayers could transact online, that would have a much more significant impact than the Web site's current publishing-only approach.
  3. Resistance to change . Tax service personnel have not been prepared for the changes that Web-based working can mean. They have been reluctant to alter their working patterns to incorporate the Web.


  1. Train staff . Staff working with Web applications in their organisations need training to raise their awareness and understanding of ICTs and of ICT-related change.
  2. Be prepared for broader change . The first Web step, of publishing, has value in developing countries. However, government must then be prepared to go further: to take the step to an interactive site by which citizens can commuicate with public servants, and then to a transactional site that allows tax reports and returns to be made online. To do this, changes in legislation, in working procedures and in mindsets will be required.

Further Information

Case Details

Author Data Sources/Role : Web Site, Documents and Interviews; No Direct Role
Outcome : Partial Success/Partial Failure. Reform : eServices (improving public services).
Sector : General Services (Tax).
Region : Central Africa. Start Date : 2001. Submission Date : August 2002

Last updated on 19 October, 2008.
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