Ideas Workshop on Harnessing Digital Technologies to Improve Tax Revenue Performance and Outcomes

September 25-26, 2017

The IMF's Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) in collaboration with the Ugandan Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development and the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), is organizing this workshop.  


The URA has made significant investments in automating its tax and customs operations. It has deployed an integrated tax administration system (e-Tax) and a customs administration system (ASYCUDA World), which facilitate electronic registration, filing of tax returns/customs declarations, payment of tax, and the delivery of business operations. It has also implemented mobile telephone-based technology, data warehouse and business analysis solutions, cargo tracking systems, etc. Despite these advances, tax revenue collection in Uganda remains lower than the regional average for the Sub-Saharan African countries.


To main aim of the workshop is to enable the Uganda tax authorities to take full advantage of technological innovations. In this regard, it will: 1) propose ideas on how the URA could make better use of its existing technologies to improve its performance and outcomes, and 2) propose new technologies that could help the URA improve its operations, broaden the tax base, and combat evasion more effectively, with a view to raising tax revenue levels significantly over the medium term. The objective is for the Workshop to come up with two or three main proposals that can then be incorporated into Uganda’s medium-term revenue strategy (a 5 to 10-year strategy to strengthen the tax system and its administration).


URA, Uganda Tech Ecosystem, key stakeholders


70 participants: officials of the URA and the ministry of finance; people from the Uganda Tech ecosystem and other stakeholders that are active in Uganda; officials from tax administrations of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Zambia; staff and experts from the FAD; people from external technology organizations such as IBM, TATA, and others; representatives of donor agencies (DFID, WB, USAID, etc.).


A Hackathon is a 2-day event that gathers developers to compete to create the most innovative product or service on a given topic. In the same spirit of unrestrained collaboration, this workshop will be a Design Sprint (originally developed by Google Ventures (GV)), where groups will compete to design the most innovative solution to a given problem.

What a design sprint is:

  • A way of being creative by taking participants out of their comfort zone.
  • A moment of collaboration where links are drawn between various parties.
  • A way to imagine innovative solutions to complex issues with technology, UX design and processes.
  • An event that leads to creative solutions which are ready to present with next steps.
  • A serious event that needs to be well prepared in advance. 
  • A not-so-serious atmosphere that will help participants think outside the box.

What a design sprint is not:

  • A way to develop up-and-running software at low cost.
  • A way to draw a complete diagnosis of the weaknesses of the existing system. 
  • An improvised event


Day 1, Monday, September 25, 2017

8:30-9:00 AM

Welcoming the participants / Breakfast

9:00-9:45 AM

Opening Remarks by Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Deputy Director, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF.
Official Opening by Mr. Kenneth Mugambe, Director of Budget, MoFPED in Uganda.

9:45-10:00 AM

Rules of the event and presentation of the existing situation.

10:00-10:15 AM

Constitution of the groups

10:15-11:15 AM

Phase 1: Understanding the context (External participants can ask all questions they need to understand the challenge to the URA and Ministry representatives of their groups)

11:15 AM-1:00 PM

Phase 2 part 1: Sketching solutions (collectively, finding innovative ideas to the challenge)

1:00-2:30 PM

Lunch break

2:30-4:00 PM

Phase 2 part 2: Sketching solutions (individually, building innovative solutions per a proposed template—no more shout-out-loud group brainstorm at this stage)

4:00-6:00 PM

Phase 3: Deciding (collectively picking the best solutions per a structured decision process)

6:00-6:45 PM

Crossing groups (A few participants from each group stay at their table to present their work. All the others move to another group to challenge the solutions and give feedback and seek inspiration for their own work).

6:45-7:00 PM

Wrapping up the day and planning for Day 2

7:00-8:30 PM


Day 2, Tuesday, September 26, 2017

8:30-9:00 AM


9:00-11:30 AM

Phase 4: Prototyping and Pitch Rehearsal (Each group builds the prototype that will be presented at the end of the morning. It can be a presentation showing what the idea will look like and how it could be implemented)

11:30 AM -12:30 PM

Phase 5: Testing the idea (Each group pitches its solution for five minutes each to the “jury” and audience to receive feedback).

12:30-1:00 PM

Closing remarks and comments from the Ministry of Finance, URA, and the IMF

1:00-2:30 PM