Policy Manager, Digital Identification and Finance Initiative (DigiFI) - J-PAL Africa

J-PAL Africa
  • Kenya
Start Date (Earliest):

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab Africa regional office (J-PAL Africa), located in the Southern Africa Labor and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) in the University of Cape Town’s School of Economics, seeks a Policy Manager to support the Digital Identification and Finance Initiative (DigiFI).

This role provides an excellent opportunity to be part of a leading evidence-based research initiative. The Policy Manager will also map opportunities with governments, including learning about and thinking about how to include their priorities, opportunities and challenges in DigiFI’s research agenda. They will play a pivotal role augmenting the portfolio of research projects in the region, and will assist in building and strengthening new relationships with government officials and relevant stake-holders.

The role will be based in Nairobi, Kenya, with frequent travel within Sub-Saharan Africa (candidates based outside of Kenya are encouraged to apply; remote work arrangements will be considered for applicants based in any country in Africa, with the expectation of relocating to Nairobi in the future).The Policy Manager will report to the DigiFI’s Project Director, and will be expected to also manage and work closely with DigiFI’s Policy and Operations staff.

Project Description

DigiFI is a US$9 million research fund to study innovative government digital identification and e-payment reforms. Early research suggests there is vast opportunity across Africa for digital technologies to help reduce leakage in the delivery of social protection and other public goods and services, to increase fiscal capacity, to reduce corruption, and, most importantly, to boost the welfare of citizens, particularly marginalized groups, and women. Yet, there remains a glaring lack of rigorous, peer-reviewed evidence on how governments can most effectively leverage digital payments and ID systems.

DigiFI aims to fill this evidence gap by funding cutting edge research projects focused on the study of innovative government payment systems, ID, and reforms. The Initiative staff a) work with government officials and academics to build policy-relevant research projects, primarily randomized evaluations, on digital policies, b) are pioneering innovative ways to fund and support African scholars, and c) support the running of our Request for Proposals, including liaising with the DigiFI Board comprised of academics, and policy stakeholders to make funding decisions.

Thus far, DigiFI has funded 7 Randomised Evaluation and over 40 projects in total including pilot and proposal development grants. The Initiative also has a robust pipeline of projects on digital ID built by the staff. Given this foundation, the Policy Manager will work with the DigiFI’s Project Director to set and implement the vision and take the initiative into its next phase.


The Policy Manager will work with policymakers and researchers to try to generate new research projects related to digital IDs and payments across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Responsibilities include:

  • Scoping for new research projects
    • Mapping existing payments systems and roll-out of digital ID systems
    • Establish and cultivate key government relationships to grow the research portfolio in anchor countries as well as to work hand in hand with government partners to help them make decisions based on this research. 
    • Diffusing knowledge to J-PAL affiliate and invited researcher network
  • Synthesizing and sharing evidence
    • Maintain expertise in the areas of ID, e-payments, and governance in the context across Africa. Prepare and presenting tailored materials on existing evidence and its relevance to local context
    • Identify windows of opportunity to share evidence with relevant stakeholders at key decision points
    • Create materials for policy outreach, including tailored evidence note presentations, policy briefs, blogs, and other high-level deliverables designed to “translate” research findings into actionable recommendations.
  • Event planning and operational support
    • Organizing in-country roundtables with researchers and policymakers
    • Building rolodex of invitees with both researchers and policymakers
    • Coordinating logistics for events
    • Support the management of the research grants, in conjunction with J-PAL Africa operations staff
  • African Scholars Program - Support the Initiative’s efforts to build the capacity of local researchers by:
    • Helping to identify and recruit African academics to partner with the initiative, and create a robust network of current and potential African scholars.
    • Working with local universities to advertise relevant opportunities for African Scholars
  • Data analytics
    • Supporting policymakers in planning and executing real-time data monitoring, e.g., to analyze take-up of relevant roll-outs. This could include navigating policy relationships to get access to relevant data, ensuring data is well protected and privacy laws are met, determining how to store data, analyzing data in Stata or R, and sharing results with policymakers in real-time.
    • Documenting data protection and privacy laws in relevant countries and sharing these with researchers 
    • Supporting the initiative in creating data analytics guidelines and protocols


The successful individual must offer the following demonstrated experience, knowledge and competencies:

  • A Master’s Degree in Public Policy or Economics or another similar social science; training in project management, policy dissemination, policy writing, microeconomics, development economics, econometrics or statistics required.
  • At least three years’ experience which includes working in developing countries. Experience should reflect ability to create and maintain high-level relationships with policymakers and implementersDemonstrated capacity to work with implementing partners and academic leads to set up, support, and analyze rigorous research particularly randomized evaluations. Ability to work with policymakers to brainstorm ideas for potential randomized evaluations and to matchmake these to interested researchers
    • Demonstrated management skills and experience, including vision setting, hiring, training, and management of staff
  • Strong project management skills, including the ability to push forward multiple external stakeholders and handle multiple diverse assignments at one time while conducting high-quality work. Seeking self-starters who can also work as part of a complex, remotely-based team.
  • Advanced writing and presentation skills. Exceptional ability to translate technical research findings from academic papers into policy lessons that policymakers and laypersons can understand. Strong communication skills, including writing, conversing, and presenting clearly in English
  • Ability and willingness to travel internationally frequently and flexibly. Most travel will be in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Experience writing and managing budgets


  • French language ability.
  • Experience doing policy and research work in a range of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Experience in topics related to digital IDs and payments
  • Experience supporting or conducting randomized evaluations.
  • Expertise in issues related to digital identification and governance.
  • Data skills in Stata, R, Python, or a similar software.

About J-PAL

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a global research center working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Anchored by a network of over 700 affiliated professors at universities around the world, J-PAL conducts randomized impact evaluations to answer critical questions in the fight against poverty. The J-PAL network has launched over 1,640 randomized evaluations across the world and is committed to supporting the application of research insights and the scaling of programs that have been evaluated and found to be effective: more than 600 million people have been reached by programs that were scaled up after being evaluated by J-PAL affiliates.

How to Apply

To apply, please email the documents listed below in a single pdf file to Abdoulaye Ndiaye ([email protected]).

A letter of motivation clearly addressing your interests and experience/qualifications for the various responsibilities listed above

Your Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Please ensure the subject of the email is “Application for Policy Manager, DigiFI_[YOUR Name]”.

Shortlisted candidates will undergo written and data tests as well as a series of interviews. Due to the volume of applications, we may not be able to respond to candidates who are not short-listed. Deadline for submission: 19 May 2024.