Strathmore Tax Hackathon 2024: Cultivating Innovation in Tax Policy


In the heart of Nairobi, the prestigious Strathmore Law School hosted the Strathmore Tax Hackathon 2024. The vibrant and intellectually stimulating event organized by the Strathmore Tax Research Centre took place from March 25th to March 27th. . This eagerly anticipated gathering brought together tax experts, students, and industry stakeholders for a three-day exploration of critical issues in taxation and the quest for innovative solutions to shape Kenya’s fiscal landscape.

The overarching theme of the Hackathon, “Expanding Kenya’s Tax Base while Preserving its Status as a Prime Investment Destination,” encapsulated the pressing challenges facing policymakers and practitioners alike. With Kenya’s economic development trajectory and its position as an attractive investment destination, participants embarked on a journey of discovery, analysis, and problem-solving.

The Hackaton focused on a pressing issue: Kenya’s current debt-to-GDP ratio is 70.8%. This means that the government must  increase its revenue sources to effectively deliver essential public goods and services required to propel its development agenda forward. Understanding the significant portion of revenue earmarked for debt servicing, the Hackathon tasked participants with crafting legislative and administrative proposals aimed at broadening Kenya’s tax base. These proposals aimed to reach sectors or individuals currently outside the tax net or that remain difficult to tax, thus addressing the core challenge of revenue generation.

The event commenced with a round table discussion on March 22nd, 2024, moderated by Julians Amboko. Drawing expertise from governmental bodies, private enterprises, academia, and civil society, the discussion featured experts such as Hon. Kimani Francis Kuria, Edna Gitachu from PWC, Joy Ndubai specializing in International Taxes, Riva Jalipa from Action Aid International, Lenah Olum representing KRA, Betty Ngare from Nestle, Gabriel Kitenga – a Tax Policy Expert, Bosire Nyamori from the University of Nairobi, and Leonard Wanyama from the East African Tax and Governance Network. Together, they delved into the multifaceted dimensions of the theme, offering insights honed through years of experience and rigorous research, laying a solid foundation for the substantive discussions and collaborative efforts that ensued.

The Hackathon  attracted teams of students from eight institutions across the country, including Kenyatta University, the University of Nairobi, Strathmore University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Mount Kenya University, Daystar University, Catholic University of Eastern Africa and Kenya School of Revenue Administration. These aspiring tax professionals, armed with intellect, enthusiasm, and a passion for innovation, eagerly immersed themselves in the complexities of Kenya’s tax policies and regulatory framework.

The students’ submissions and presentations delved into innovative strategies that adhered to the guidelines provided. They proposed practical measures, ensuring feasibility and implementation viability. Moreover, equity was a key consideration, with proposals safeguarding against undue financial burdens on low-income earners, in line with constitutional provisions advocating for equitable taxation. Additionally, the proposals struck a harmonious equilibrium between fostering a favorable business climate for both local and international investors while ensuring sufficient tax collection, thus maintaining the delicate balance between economic growth and fiscal sustainability. From exploring potential reforms to tax incentives to devising strategies for combating tax evasion, each team of participants brought forth creative and actionable proposals. The Hackathon was characterized by interdisciplinary collaboration, rigorous analysis, and creative problem-solving.

As the event progressed, participants honed their proposals, refining their arguments, and perfecting their presentations. The culmination of their efforts was showcased through written submissions and dynamic presentations, where teams articulated their recommendations with clarity, precision, and persuasive force. Central to the success of the Hackathon was the adjudication process, overseen by a panel of esteemed judges drawn from across the tax ecosystem. These seasoned professionals provided invaluable feedback to the participating teams, challenging assumptions, probing methodologies, and offering constructive criticism, thereby enriching the quality and rigor of the discourse.

In culmination, the top three teams were honored for their outstanding ideas. They were as follows: Strathmore University (1st place), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (1st runners-up), and Kenyatta University (2nd runners-up). Members of the winning team were extended internship opportunities at  PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), while those from the 1st runners-up team received  internship offers at Anjarwalla &Khanna (ALN). Members of the 2nd runners-up team were rewarded with cutting-edge gadgets from Huawei. Furthermore, the accolade for the best speaker in the Hackathon earned an internship opportunity at ALN, while the 2nd and 3rd best speakers were granted internships at KPMG. Such gestures underscore the unwavering commitment of our esteemed sponsors to the noble cause of the Hackathon. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Price Water Coopers (PWC), KPMG, Anjarwarlla and Khanna (ALN), Tax Justice Network Africa, Huawei, and Strathmore Law School, whose unwavering support and commitment to excellence made this event possible. Their generous contributions not only facilitated the logistical aspects of the event but also underscored their dedication to advancing research, innovation, and capacity-building in the field of taxation.

In conclusion, the Strathmore Tax Hackathon 2024 stands as a beacon of excellence in tax policy discourse and innovation. Through collaborative efforts, rigorous analysis, and creative problem-solving, participants demonstrated the transformative potential of interdisciplinary dialogue in addressing complex societal challenges. As we reflect on the success of this event, we express our profound appreciation to all participants, sponsors, judges, and stakeholders for their invaluable contributions. Together, we have laid the groundwork for continued engagement and collaboration in shaping the future of taxation in Kenya and beyond.

Written and Compiled by Emmanuel Gacheru, Graduate Assistant, Strathmore Law School

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