J-PAL's African Scholars Program
The African Scholars Program provides funding, mentorship and training opportunities to African researchers. The program is currently offered through four of J-PAL’s initiatives—JOI, DigiFI, DAISI, LAI—meaning that scholars can apply for funding in those topic areas.
About the Program
The African Scholars Program provides several opportunities to African researchers.
- Formative research: Proposal development grant (up to $10,000)
- Formative research: Pilot grant (up to $75,000)
- Monitoring systems (up to $75,000) [DigiFI only]
- Full randomised evaluations (up to $400,000)
For more information on each of these funding opportunities, please see our African Scholar FAQs.
Application support and mentorship
During the application process, J-PAL staff are available to provide African Scholar teams with light-touch assistance on their proposals. For Scholars who receive funding, targeted mentorship by a J-PAL affiliate or invited researcher will be provided. African Scholars may either identify an eligible mentor before submitting a proposal or be matched with a mentor by J-PAL staff after their proposal has been selected. It is not necessary to have an existing relationship with a mentor in order to apply.
Webinars and workshops
Throughout the year, J-PAL Africa staff run webinars and workshops on topics such as supporting the development of proposals for various initiatives and providing a platform for Scholars to share their work.
For example, DigiFI hosted a four-part webinar series that covers some of the fundamentals of running randomised evaluations that can be found on this page and JOI hosted a webinar at the launch of their Spring 2022 RFP on JOI's research agenda and funding opportunities for African Scholars.
To receive updates on future events, please register in our African Scholars database.
Two categories of African Scholars are eligible to receive funding and support under our programs:
- Resident African Scholars include those who have completed a PhD in economics or related field and are based at an African academic institution.
- Non-resident African Scholars include those who completed high school in Africa, have a PhD in economics or related field, and are based at an academic institution outside of Africa.
DigiFI Africa funds both resident and non-resident African Scholars while JOI and DAISI only fund resident African Scholars based in Sub-Saharan Africa. Note that only one member of a research team has to meet the definition of African Scholar for the team to be eligible for funding.
Currently, four of J-PAL’s Initiatives are running the African Scholars Program and each has a specific research scope:
Digital Identification and Finance Initiative in Africa (DigiFI Africa)
DigiFI aims to generate rigorous evidence on how African governments, private companies, and NGOs can leverage digital payments and identification systems to improve lives through better public service delivery, governance, and financial inclusion.
For more information on African Scholars opportunities at DigiFi please click here.
Jobs and Opportunity Initiative (JOI)
Digital Agricultural Innovations and Services Initiative (DAISI)
DAISI aims to generate a rigorous evidence base that carefully identifies whether digital tools and bundled approaches are successful in improving smallholder farmer outcomes, connecting farmers to markets, and expanding commercialization in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
For more information on African Scholars opportunities at DAISI, please click here.
Learning for All Initiative (LAI)
LAI aims to generate a body of policy-relevant rigorous research to improve student learning outcomes by addressing foundational literacy and numeracy, pedagogy, holistic skills, and barriers to equity and inclusion, particularly for girls.
LAI will be launching its first request for proposals for African Scholars in the fall of 2023. Details coming soon.
Evaluations by African Scholars
To date, J-PAL has funded 30 African Scholar led projects in 11 countries including Benin, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
A list of funded studies is provided below, grouped by initiative.
Jobs and Opportunities Initiative (JOI)
- Adoption of Improved Cook Stoves and Women's Decision-making Empowerment in Rural Benin
Digital Identification and Finance Initiative (DigiFI)
- Assessing the effect of digital and flexible payment options on the uptake of health insurance by the Nigerian informal sector
- Biometric tracking of health workers attendance and maternal and child health outcomes in rural Nigeria
- Biometric Tracking of School Attendance and Human Capital Formation of Pupils: Evidence from Rural Schools in Nigeria
- Digital Identification Systems, Digital Financial Services and Household Welfare in Ghana
- Digital Transformation and Competition: Evidence from Mobile Money
- Improving Ghana’s National Health Insurance Biometric Card Renewals: A Randomised Control Trial Using Reminders and Moving Renewal Dates
- Improving the supply of mobile money towards better financial inclusion: The case of Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Introduction to the “m-tax” mobile payment platform in Senegal: A formative evaluation of the reform
- Leveraging digital finance in Ethiopia: Pilot Study
- Leveraging National Identification and Digital Payment Systems to Nudge Informal Pension Contributions in Ghana
- Rural Households' Enrolment in Digital Identification and Payment Systems
- Smart Together: Advancing targeted digital financing and group managment dynamics for inclusive agricultural productivity and prosperity in Nigeria
- The Impact of Biometric Identification Technology Use on Employee Attendance and Payroll Management: Experimental Evidence From Ethiopia Public Service Sector
- The Role of Digital Finance Platforms in Managing the Fiscal Space and Enhancing the Efficiency of Tax Collection and Administration at Subnational Levels in Nigeria
- Community Water and Sanitation Agency Smart Taps in Northern Ghana
- Digitalization of Cocoa Value Chain Payments in Ghana