Astrid Haas

Astrid is the Senior Country Economist for Cities and Head of the Cities that Work Initiative at the IGC. Her current research specializes in the area of municipal and infrastructure finance, in particular, but she also works on other areas such as urban mobility and urban land tenure more broadly. She works with various mayors, city managers and their teams in Africa and Asiato support research and evidence-based policy reform. In this capacity, Astrid has, for example,been invited to provide a peer review of the new Municipal Law of Afghanistan by the Acting Mayor of Kabul, to co-chair the Hargeisa municipal finance reform task force by the Minister of Interior of Somaliland as well as helping set up a research programme within the Kampala Capital City Authority. Prior to joining the IGC, she worked for Innovations for Poverty Action as well as for Evidence Action, which included work in Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi. Astrid has also worked as an analyst on a large-scale agriculture project in South Sudan and as an Economist in the Ministry of East African Community in Kenya. She holds an MA in International Economics and International Development from Johns Hopkins University (in Italy and the USA). In 2016, she was nominated by the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, University of Cape Town as one of Africa’s Young Leaders. She is nowundertaking her PhD in the Innovative Governance of Large Urban Systems with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland).

Content by Astrid Haas
  • Publication - Project Report

    Considerations for land value capture reform in the Greater Amman Municipality

    This report discusses several policy options for improving the calculation and collection of specific land value capture instruments. Namely: Land Value Increment Taxes; Betterment Levies; Development Impact Fees and Exactions. The report focuses on the city of Amman, however, several of the policy challenges and solutions that emerge are common to many developing...

    28 Oct 2019 | Astrid Haas, Sebastian Kriticos

  • Multimedia Item - Video

    The importance of bus rapid transit systems (BRTs) for cities

    Astrid Haas, Senior Country Economist and Manager of the Cities that Work Initiative, shares her thoughts on the most game-changing research of the past decade and discusses the importance of bus rapid transit systems for cities.

    28 Oct 2019

  • Publication - Policy paper

    Can Africa learn from the Chinese urbanisation story?

    This paper provides a framework to understand the similarities and differences between Africa’s current urbanisation pathway and the path China has taken over the last 30 years. A major difference is that Africa’s urbanisation to date has not been associated with anywhere near the same gains in productivity and poverty reduction that have been seen in China. Instead,...

    28 Oct 2019 | Stefan Dercon, Astrid Haas, Sebastian Kriticos, Nicolas Lippolis

  • Multimedia Item - Video

    Best practices for property tax enforcement

    Astrid Haas, Senior Country Economist and Head of the Cities that Work Initiative, discusses best practices of property tax enforcement and what Punjab can learn from other countries' experience.

    25 Oct 2019

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Data for Cities: A 2019 Urban Baseline for Mandalay City

    In developing countries, a lack of rich data can hinder evidence-based decision-making and research on urban areas for urban policymakers when making decisions on infrastructure and services. This brief presents the first urban baseline survey across all the six townships in Mandalay, and its analysis provides an outline for important city characteristics, including...

    19 Sep 2019 | Astrid Haas, Nan Sandi

  • Publication - Growth Brief

    Financer les villes à croissance rapide

    Beaucoup de villes des pays en développement grandissent à un rythme sans précédent. Pour répondre à cette expansion aussi rapide que non planifiée, les autorités municipales auront intérêt à la fois à accroitre leurs sources de revenus existantes et à étudier de nouvelles options de financement pour s’adapter à une demande accrue en services...

    16 Aug 2019 | Astrid Haas, Paul Collier

  • Blog post

    Getting the right institutions in place to run Africa’s cities efficiently

    Over the next 16 years, all of the world’s 10 fastest growing cities are going to be in Africa. If this growth is a process of people voting with their feet, as last year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics Paul Romer once put it, these cities are winning. Yet urbanisation in many developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, is not delivering the...

    22 May 2019 | Astrid Haas, Shahrukh Wani

  • Publication - Policy paper

    Urban governance institutions: Policy options for fast growing cities

    Developing countries today are home to all of the world’s thirty fastest-growing major cities — with sub-Saharan Africa home to twenty-one of these thirty. This rapid growth has made these cities the epicentre for the battle for national prosperity, a struggle whose outcome depends on the policy choices made by city leaders. Policy options which target the...

    30 Apr 2019 | Astrid Haas, Shahrukh Wani

  • Publication - Policy paper

    Key considerations for integrated multi-modal transport planning

    This paper will start by outlining the limits of city transport policies and planning focused on road and car based infrastructure. It will then outline the main components of integrated multi modal transport plans. This type of planning is increasingly being adopted and to understand why, this paper will outline the potential benefits of such plans if they are...

    1 Feb 2019 | Astrid Haas

  • Project

    Establishing frameworks for municipal finance in Somaliland

    A lack of appropriate policies for municipal revenue collection poses a significant fiscal challenge for many low-income country cities. The IGC’s Astrid Haas was invited by the Somaliland Ministry of Interior to co-chair their Municipal Finance Taskforce and to deliver a workshop on municipal finance. The workshop was welcomed by government officials, who...

    16 Jan 2019 | Astrid Haas

  • Blog post

    Data for decision-making: How spatial data is shaping the African urbanisation story

    Ahead of the 17th Urban Age Conference and the first to be held in Africa, Sebastian Kriticos and Astrid Haas discuss the need for better data to tackle some of Africa’s biggest urbanisation challenges. On a daily basis, city policymakers need to take decisions: where and how to deliver services, what rates to apply to taxes and where to make investments, amongst others....

    26 Nov 2018 | Astrid Haas, Sebastian Kriticos

  • Publication - Working Paper

    Taxing vacant urban land in Kampala

    24 Aug 2018 | Mihaly Kopanyi, Astrid Haas

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Considerations for a tax on urban vacant land in Kampala

    Vacant land constitutes an estimated 8-10% of Kampala’s land. However, this does not take into account abandoned or derelict buildings, space used for parking, or large pieces of land attached to small buildings. These are all types of land that have been categorised as vacant in other countries. Currently, vacant land is not classified as property under the...

    24 Aug 2018 | Mihaly Kopanyi, Astrid Haas

  • Blog post

    Where are Kampala’s missing houses?

    Kampala is facing a dearth of affordable formal housing. Rural-urban migration, limited access to mortgage finance, and a host of other factors are all straining its housing sector. It is imperative for planners to think of innovative and sustainable ways to address this issue. Rapid urbanisation across sub-Saharan Africa has had far-reaching implications for housing....

    14 Mar 2018 | Astrid Haas, Thierry Hoza Ngoga

  • Publication - Synthesis paper

    Private vs. public collection in enhancing local tax revenues

    15 Feb 2018 | Astrid Haas, Priya Manwaring

  • Publication - Synthesis paper

    An overview of municipal finance in Hargeisa, Somaliland

    15 Feb 2018 | Astrid Haas

  • Multimedia Item - Video

    In conversation with Jennifer Musisi at the World Urban Forum

    Astrid Haas (International Growth Centre) speaks to Jennifer Musisi (Executive Director, Kampala Capital City Authority) about policies for growing cities at the World Urban Forum.

    14 Feb 2018

  • Project

    Cost effective panel data collection

    Context and primary motivation for the study The urban literature on developing country cities is still growing. One of the major constraints, however, is access to good quality data. Existing data sources are often costly or difficult to get, frequently do not measure prices, are not individual specific, do not allow for tracking of individuals, and are available...

    24 Jan 2018 | Julia Bird, Gharad Bryan, Simon Franklin, Astrid Haas

  • Blog post

    Why metropolitan governance structures matter: Kampala

    Structuring metropolitan governance is largely dictated by administrative jurisdictions. Population and financing variables are also influential, with the power to determine the social, political and economic prosperity of the country at large. Metropolises Metropolitan areas are important hubs for economic activity around the world, particularly in less developed...

    19 Jan 2018 | Astrid Haas, Enid Slack

  • Project

    African cities background: Kampala – a policy narrative

    This policy narrative examines the urban development of Kampala from its pre-colonial past to the present day. It covers both the spatial development of the city as well as its economic development. Special emphasis is given to the historical development of the city’s structure of governance, land and housing markets, and transportation networks. The analysis uses a wide...

    9 Oct 2017 | Patricia Jones, Julia Bird, Charles Beck, Astrid Haas

  • Project

    KCCA research programme and operational framework development

    This project is supporting the development of an internal research program to serve as the KCCA’s main team to support of research, analysis and evaluation of strategies and projects. It will achieve this by compiling a knowledge repository, documenting key expectations, compiling the most important research questions, discerning impacts of projects, programmes and...

    9 Oct 2017 | Patrick Musoke, Edison Masereka, Damalie Nyamatte , Eleth Nakazzi, Diana Rubalema , Astrid Haas

  • Project

    Cost effective panel data collection for Kampala

    This Kampala based study will pilot methods for collecting low-cost, high-frequency panel survey data that improves on existing data sources in three ways. The data will provide information about prices (consumer prices, wages, and rents) at the individual and location level; The data will allow for the creation of commuting flows at the individual (or group)...

    9 Oct 2017 | Gharad Bryan, Simon Franklin, Julia Bird, Astrid Haas

  • Blog post

    Tackling the big stink: Investing in water and sanitation systems

    The question of how to finance water systems is not a new one. While drawing from lessons from the past, this post looks at the impact of investing in water systems, and the challenges funding mechanisms face. Not too long ago, today’s metropolises, London, Paris and Berlin, were grappling with similar questions to those that many developing country cities currently...

    2 Oct 2017 | Astrid Haas

  • Project

    Scoping trip: Introducing a formal bus system into Kampala

    Kampala is a heavily congested city, and its current transport infrastructure is inadequate. With the help of the IGC, Jit Bajpai, a seasoned urban transport economist, met with stakeholders for transport in Kampala to discuss the reform process, and how the formalisation of the transport system can be successfully carried through. Recommendations included the...

    5 Sep 2017 | Jit Bajpai , Astrid Haas

  • Blog post

    Incremental reform for public transportation: From mini-vans to buses

    More roads mean more cars. Effective urban policy should prioritise getting people on the roads, with in fewer vehicles – are buses and other mass transit systems the answer? Connectivity to move people rather than vehicles Connectivity nurtures agglomeration economies and unlocks the productivity potential of cities. In developing country cities however, which are...

    28 Aug 2017 | Jit Bajpai , Astrid Haas

  • Publication - Policy note

    Taxation of vacant urban land: From theory to practice

    17 Jul 2017 | Astrid Haas, Mihaly Kopanyi

  • Publication - Growth Brief

    Financing fast-growing cities

    Many developing country cities are growing at an unprecedented rate. To respond to this unplanned, rapid expansion, it will be beneficial for city authorities both to expand existing revenue sources and explore new financing options to match higher demand for public services. Cities like Kampala, Uganda, will triple in size by the year 2050, according to estimates...

    27 Jun 2017 | Astrid Haas, Paul Collier

  • Publications Reader Item

    Financing fast-growing cities

    27 Jun 2017

  • Project

    The potential of taxing vacant land in Kampala’s central division

    In a previous IGC-funded research project at the request of the Directorate of Revenue Collection (DRC) in the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Dr Mihaly Kopanyi analysed various ways that KCCA could potentially raise its own source revenue. One of the main recommendations was to explore the issue of taxation of vacant land. Land tax overall is a major potential...

    15 Mar 2017 | Mihaly Kopanyi, Astrid Haas

  • Blog post

    Uganda needs a caffeine fix: Insights from Vietnam’s coffee market success

    Until recently Vietnam and Uganda shared a similar trajectory in the development of their coffee sectors. Today, Vietnam has emerged as the second largest coffee producer in the world. In Uganda, poor agricultural inputs and a failing institutional environment have resulted in low yields and slower development of the sector. In January 2017, world coffee exports already...

    14 Mar 2017 | Astrid Haas

  • Publication - Policy note

    The importance of property rights for successful urbanisation in developing countries

    27 Jan 2017 | Astrid Haas, Patricia Jones

  • Blog post

    From moving vehicles to moving people: Designing a mass public transportation system for Kampala

    In developing countries like Uganda, urbanisation holds the key to achieving productivity and is therefore the foundation for economic growth. Urbanisation is able to spur productivity by supporting the shift of workers from low productivity sectors and jobs in agriculture, to higher productivity jobs in manufacturing. The ability of urbanisation to foster a...

    17 Jan 2017 | Astrid Haas

  • Blog post

    Kampala, where urbanisation is not synonymous with industrialisation

    Many Sub-Saharan African cities have been growing at unprecedented rates. For example, according to the most recent census, in Kampala, the estimated resident night-time population currently lies at 1.5 million people. Some projections from the World Bank suggest that the city could expand to an estimated 9.1 million people by 2050. This figure does not include those people...

    7 Dec 2016 | Douglas Gollin, Astrid Haas

  • Blog post

    Proceed with caution: South Sudan and the East African Monetary Union

    South Sudan's accession into the East African Community signals a strong commitment to regional integration. Greater stability after the conflict will however depend upon a renewed focus on stable macroeconomic policy and fiscal discipline.   Peace and macroeconomic stability, first In September 2016, South Sudan deposited its accession instruments to the East African...

    26 Oct 2016 | Astrid Haas

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Considerations for South Sudan joining the East African Monetary Union

    27 Sep 2016 | Charles Data Alemi, Astrid Haas, Christopher Adam

  • Blog post

    Impact of fiscal policy on inequality and poverty in Uganda

    President Yoweri Museveni would like Uganda to be a middle-income country by 2020. As the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and Uganda’s own National Development plans, make clear, however, income per capita is only one criterion by which an advanced economy should be judged. Uganda should strive to lift more people out of poverty as well as close the income gap...

    12 Sep 2016 | Astrid Haas, Sebastian Wolf, Jon R. Jellema, Nora Lustig

  • Project

    Commitment to equity assessment of Uganda

    Between 2002 and 2012, the poverty rate in Uganda fell by nearly 20 percentage points, but even so nearly 20 percent of the population remained poor in 2012. Real per-capita incomes have nearly doubled over the same period, but inequality has fallen only marginally.  At the same time, public expenditures have fallen (when measured as a percent of GDP) while official...

    1 Sep 2016 | Nora Lustig, Astrid Haas, Sebastian Wolf, Jon R. Jellema

  • Publication - Project Report

    The impact of taxes, transfers, and subsidies on inequality and poverty in Uganda (Final Report)

    1 Sep 2016 | Jon R. Jellema, Nora Lustig, Sebastian Wolf, Astrid Haas

  • Blog post

    Corruption in construction

    The construction industry is the backbone of economic growth in many developing countries. Given the magnitude of funds that are funneled annually into infrastructure projects, scope for corruption and profiteering are high. Governments need greater tools to audit and monitor public spending and better manage public-private partnerships in the construction...

    1 Sep 2016 | Emanuele Colonnelli, Astrid Haas

  • Blog post

    Uber is arriving now: Driving urban mobility in Africa

    The Uber revolution has arrived. The ride-share app launched services in South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, and more recently in Uganda and Ghana. One of the biggest potential benefits of Uber in African cities could be to provide urban planners and authorities grappling with how to manage rapid urbanisation with access to data. The app collects substantial data on...

    16 Aug 2016 | Astrid Haas, Julia Bird

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Pursuing WTO accession: Advantages and disadvantages for South Sudan

    11 Jul 2016 | Charles Data Alemi, Jaime de Melo, Astrid Haas

  • Blog post

    The perils of relying on oil as the only resource for development

    Lesson from their African neighbours suggest that a stronger and more productive South Sudanese economy will have to wean itself of its reliance on oil revenues. Developing off the back of one natural resource is risky for any country. It makes them reliant on external conditions beyond their control, such as global demand and supply. Since June 2014, global oil...

    4 Apr 2016 | Astrid Haas

  • Blog post

    What South Sudan will gain from joining the East African Community

    South Sudan's admittance to the East African Community last week, represents a tremendous opportunity to harness the growth potential that could result from transforming regional trade relationships and attracting greater investment in South Sudan's physical infrastructure. IGC Country Economist Astrid Haas outlines the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead...

    7 Mar 2016 | Astrid Haas

  • Publication - Policy note

    Recommendation for South Sudan to join the East African Community

    1 Mar 2016 | Charles Data Alemi, Jaime de Melo, Astrid Haas

  • Project

    Trade, EAC and WTO accession: Pro-growth options

    As the world's newest nation, South Sudan is currently considering various options for the trade strategy it would like to pursue and that would support economic growth for the country. Within the region, South Sudan has decided to actively engage in accession talks with the East African Community (EAC). These talks commenced in November 2014 and have been relatively...

    1 Mar 2016 | Charles Data Alemi, Astrid Haas, Jaime de Melo, Christopher Adam

  • Blog post

    What Museveni’s priorities must be if Uganda is to become middle income

    Ugandans turned out to vote in the national elections last week, one of the main areas of interest for Ugandans in the run up to the 2016 elections was the state of the economy. The Electoral Commission has declared Yoweri Museveni the winner although to date, the opposition still disputes the results. Today’s blog looks at the challenges that lie ahead for Uganda’s...

    25 Feb 2016 | Astrid Haas

  • Blog post

    Why Kampala holds single biggest growth opportunity for Uganda

    Uganda’s economy has been growing steadily over the past decade. Like many other developing countries, its growth has benefited from a confluence of external events, including a sustained increase in commodity prices and partial debt relief. This blog by the IGC's Paul Collier & Astrid Haas details the challenges that lie ahead for sustaining urban development and...

    24 Dec 2015 | Paul Collier, Astrid Haas

  • Blog post

    Moving from a fixed to a floating exchange rate: The case of the South Sudanese Pound

    The Government’s decision to peg its new currency, the South Sudan Pound (SSP) to the US dollar, was largely intended to protect against oil price volatility. Amidst falling oil prices and the outbreak of civil war, the Government rapidly depleted its USD reserves and spurred the emergence of a currency black market. This blog argues that the decision taken to float the...

    17 Dec 2015 | Keith Jefferis, Astrid Haas