VAT and the Cross-Border Digital Economy in Africa: An Issue of Non-Compliance or Design?

Collecting VAT on cross-border e-commerce transactions has become a priority for states around the globe, including on the African continent. Following the international (OECD) guidelines, most countries require non-resident businesses to register in the state of consumption and remit the VAT on their B2C e-commerce supplies. While this may work in certain countries where the value of e-commerce is high, it is not the case in most African countries, where there is no real incentive for businesses to register and no real risk of sanctions in case of non-compliance. In this article, the author argues that mandatory registration of foreign businesses is hardly enforceable in developing economies, and that another approach might be needed for these countries.