United Nations Foundation

Manager, Policy & Research, Africa, DIAL

Employment Opportunity - Remote - Full Time

Position Overview 

The Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) aims to advance a more equitable world through a shared vision of a positive digital future. We connect evidence about digital tools that work for society through research, demonstrations, and advocacy. We partner with others to promote digital systems that hold qualities of inclusion, trust, choice, and human agency, with a particular focus on the themes of effective digital public infrastructure and strong data governance.

DIAL is a partnership among some of the world’s biggest digital development champions, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Kingdom’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCDO), and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and is hosted within the UN Foundation in Washington, D.C.

DIAL seeks a talented, entrepreneurial, result-oriented, and experienced Policy & Research Manager who will lead our work in developing and shaping policy positions to strengthen the adoption of DPI and promote good practice in data governance in Africa. This includes engaging stakeholders at the regional and national level, including multilateral organizations and national governments. Similarly, this role will also involve research on digital transformation topics

including digital public infrastructure and data ecosystems. This dynamic position requires a proactive, solution-oriented, articulate, strategic thinker to spearhead DIAL’s policy research aimed at advancing more inclusive, human-centric, empowering, and sustainable digital transformation.

The Policy & Research Manager shall be responsible for collating lessons learned and best practices in digital transformation within Africa and identifying and documenting the experiences of exemplar countries. While this role is focused on producing high-quality, actionable research, it will require a dynamic individual that can cultivate strategic working relationships with government officials and other partners that will contribute to and benefit from DIAL’s research products.

It will require the Policy & Research Manager to be well-informed about the trends and variables driving global and national digital transformation. The person must be well versed with national and international digital development frameworks in theory and practice, national and global trends in digital transformation. The Policy & Research Manager should be familiar with leading research subject matters and viewpoints that can steer policy narratives on digital transformation. The Policy & Research Manager will also be the face of DIAL in forums where DIAL’s viewpoints from the research pieces are to be shared to enhance knowledge sharing. This role offers the successful candidate an exciting position in a rapidly evolving and unpredictable political and economic environment.

This position is based in Africa.

Essential Functions

Policy Research (90%)

  • Develop DIAL's positions on technology policy issues in Africa, drive cross-functional consensus around these positions, and craft policy position documents, talking points, and other materials for internal and external communication
  • Play a leading role in policy engagement with DIAL’s priority countries in Africa, including travel to these regions. Support DIAL partners and lead policy discussions such as roundtables and workshops involving policymakers, development partners, government, and regulatory partners.
  • Identify prevailing research questions around the drivers of national digital transformation with a particular emphasis on digital public infrastructure, data governance, and consent.
  • Conceptualize coherent policy focused action research agenda to document lessons learned and good practices from DIAL’s past and present efforts across the purviews of digital policy, strategy, data ecosystem, enterprise architecture and digital building blocks, etc.
  • Produce publications such as case studies, reports with clear findings and recommendations, policy briefings and factsheets for both internal and external use.
  • Keep up to date with developments in public policy, legislation, best practice, and relevant new initiatives around adoption of digital public infrastructure and data governance.
  • Analyze and evaluate existing policy environment, and recommend organizational positions, and lead related comment letters, memos, and policy briefings.
  • Tracking important digital developments across the continent; integrating secondary research into DIAL’s learning agenda, writing informative pieces that can serve as inputs to other DIAL audiences (countries and donors, etc.) by supporting the production of high-quality and professional research papers, publications, toolkits, and blogs which capture lessons and insights regarding country engagement and learnings.
  • Responsible for the strategic and technical leadership on policy research in Africa to ensure technical integrity and quality assurance.
  • Leverage the Africa Data Leadership Initiative, GovStack, and other relevant communities of practice as channels for gathering insights and lessons learned as well as channels for dissemination of research
  • Contribute to analytical work and reports across the team, taking the lead on specific parts or chapters of the reports as needed.
  • Ensure that DIAL’s strategic policy research objectives are aligned with the wider organization’s Research agenda

Business Development (10%)

  • Build and manage relationships with relevant stakeholders to identify and catalyze strategic opportunities to develop and support initiatives aligning with DIAL’s core objectives.
  • Responsible for identifying new national business opportunities and working with DIAL business development team in the successful development of concept notes and tactical approach plans.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Selection Criteria 

  • Bachelor’s degree required and/or significant equivalent work experience; Master's degree preferred in relevant field related to technology-focused international development.
  • 5-7 years’ experience in research or international development, preferably at strategic level, with a focus on technology-centric development programs. 
  • Deep knowledge of Africa’s policy settings and social issues.
  • Previous established experience in policy and research development, with a proven record of accomplishment delivering significant policy projects that align with organizational strategy and support effective advocacy.
  • Extensive experience in developing policy positions either within government or on behalf of an organization seeking to influence government policy.
  • Knowledge and understanding of trends in national digital transformation and digital economy in Africa with demonstrable expertise in technical architecture and/or enabling environment for digital public infrastructure and data governance.
  • Demonstrate clear and compelling written and verbal communication skills with proof of publications and writing samples.
  • Prior experience managing externally commissioned research projects preferred.
  • Experience in leading action research.
  • Ability to work collaboratively in a team and individually.
  • Excellent interpersonal, communication, networking, and positioning skills at multiple levels with the ability to manage relationships with federal and local government officials.
  • Ascribe DIAL's values of Commitment, Collaboration, Empowerment, Courage, and Thoughtful Action

Benefits & Compensation 

For full-time, benefit eligible employees, UNF offers an excellent range of benefits, including:

  • a choice between two health plans through UnitedHealthcare (PPO or HDHP with HSA)
  • dental insurance
  • vision insurance
  • flexible spending accounts
  • 403b retirement savings plan with a generous matching contribution
  • group term and supplemental life insurance
  • short-term disability
  • long-term disability
  • health club discounts
  • commuter subsidy
  • back-up care
  • employee assistance program

Additionally, all benefit eligible employees have 12 paid holidays, 20 vacation days, 10 sick days, 3 personal days, and 8 weeks of family leave care.

The United Nations Foundation is proud to be an equal opportunity and affirmative-action employer. The United Nations Foundation provides equal employment opportunity to all employees and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws.

This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.

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