World Bank fellowship programme doubles its intake

The Africa Fellowship Program run by the World Bank is this year doubling its intake from 10 to 20 fellows, after the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, or DFID, joined the initiative.

In terms of the fellowship 10 young PhD fellows from Sub-Saharan Africa join the bank’s headquarters for six months to widen their knowledge and exposure. DFID will now fund an additional 10 fellowships from 2018, with a special focus on forced displacement, in a deal reached between the two development agencies.

The coming on board of DFID raises the amount to be invested in the scholarships to US$1 million, up from the US$500,000 the bank has been spending annually since the initiative was launched.

The additional fellows to be selected with the funding from the UK agency will work on forced displacement research in the context of operations led by the World Bank Group or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, or the Middle East.

“For these additional 10 positions, candidates from refugee and internally displaced communities and/or with proven experience on forced displacement will be given a priority. Selected candidates with a strong interest in the area of forced displacement will work on research programs targeting refugees, internally displaced persons, and host communities,” said a World Bank statement.

According to Nalin Jena, senior education specialist at the World Bank, it was recognised that the “scale and severity of forced displacement requires more rigorous evidence-building and evidence-based interventions”.

Priority will thus be given to candidates, including women, from countries that have experienced internal displacements and refugee crises.

The involvement of the DFID came after the bank’s Office of the Chief Economist for Africa which founded the fellowships initiative in 2013, incorporated its Fragility, Conflict & Violence Unit into the programme.

The latest development comes as the global lender issued a call for the 2017 fellows, setting the final date for applications as 19 November, ahead of commencement of fellowships on 31 January 2018.

Nationals of any Sub-Saharan country who are recent PhD graduates, or current doctoral students “within one year of completing or graduating” in the fields of economics, applied statistics and econometrics, impact evaluation, education, health, energy, agriculture, infrastructure, demography, displacements or other relevant development fields, can apply.

They must however have been born on or after 1 October 1986, have an excellent command of English, and possess “strong quantitative and analytical skills”.

Fellows will be expected to complete a research project or prepare a research paper to be presented to the bank, with high quality papers standing a chance of being published in internal publications of the lender.

Besides working on their own research, the scholars will benefit from research and innovation in multiple sectors, economic policy, technical assistance, and lending offered by the institution.

According to the bank’s chief economist for Africa, Albert Zeufack, other advantages include gaining a better understanding of the operations of one of the most reputable employers in the world, access to top quality data for research work, and interaction with some of the most seasoned experts in the field of development.

Since it became operational in 2014, fellows of the programme are treated as short-term consultants, earning fees besides other benefits, with some finally securing employment with the institution at the end of the fellowship period.

So far a total of 30 scholars have gone through the programme.