Job Details

  • Reference number: E210157
  • Province: Western Cape
  • Type of engagement: Permanent appointment
  • Posted: April 12th

Background to Position

J-PAL Africa seeks two Policy Managers to support its mission of promoting evidence-based policymaking. We are looking for creative strategists with a strong quantitative background, a passion for rigorous evaluation, an eye for opportunity, a dedication to quality and a passion for helping people.

The positions will be based at J-PAL Africa, the Africa hub of J-PAL Global, which is located in the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) in the University of Cape Town, School of Economics.

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) consists of a global network of academics who specialise in conducting randomised evaluations of social policies/programmes to generate scientific evidence about what works in the fight against poverty. J-PAL’s policy group analyses and disseminates research results and builds partnerships with policymakers to ensure that policy is driven by evidence, and effective programmes are scaled up.

This role provides an excellent opportunity to engage with decision-makers and researchers at the forefront of evidence-based policymaking and to grow new opportunities to improve programmes and policies, thereby improving the lives of citizens across Africa. The J-PAL Africa team provides the flexibility for accelerated growth by supporting proactivity and encouraging top performers to expand and develop their portfolio. At the same time, the position is rooted in rigorous, careful evidence and backed by a system of scientific oversight and supportive management structures to promote both global sharing of ideas and the local contextualisation and empowerment of policymakers on the ground. 

Job Description

    Responsibilities include:

    • Identify, design and support opportunities for rigorous, policy-relevant research generation. This includes working both with policymakers and researchers in the J-PAL network to promote the generation of new randomized evaluations which answer key questions for policymakers. One of the roles will focus on digital ID & payment system reforms and research.
    • Support policy outreach and programmes for countries in sub-Saharan Africa in governance and finance for one role and labour, crime and violence for the other.
    • Build and maintain partnerships with key government partners.
    • Explore creative ways in which administrative data could be better used by policymakers to identify needs, improve implementation and identify policy priority evidence matches.
    • Match policy priorities with evidence, forge partnerships, share policy lessons and design strategies to apply policy lessons of effective interventions in sub-Saharan Africa. This work includes maintaining expertise and command of the policy lessons generated by randomised evaluations across the J-PAL sectors as well as deep, careful analysis of local contexts and sectors.
    • Work with the research team and J-PAL initiatives to support building local researcher capacity, including the use of the Data, Economics and Development Policy Micromasters.
    • Support the implementation of effective policy events through contributing to design, presentations and relationship building with key stakeholders.
    • Support recruitment and training of new staff, performance management and development.
    • Track and manage budgets.
    • Fundraise as necessary to support new projects/ programmes and new policy outreach activities.
    • Support on grant management.
    • Support staff as required.
    • For more information about the details of this position please refer to the attached position description.
    • The 2020 annual cost of employment, including benefits, is between R615 025 and R723 556, dependent on qualifications and experience. The 2021 annual remuneration package still to be confirmed. 

    Inherent Criteria

    Requirements for the job:

    • Four years of relevant work experience
    • A Master’s Degree in Public Policy or Economics or another similar social science including graduate level courses in econometrics/statistics, microeconomics and development economics
    • Demonstrated ability to analyse rigorous quantitative research
    • Advanced writing and oral presentation skills in English, particularly the ability to communicate technical research to policymakers in a non-technical manner
    • Demonstrated leadership and programme management experience, including hiring, training, and management of staff
    • Experience writing and managing budgets
    • Proven ability to handle multiple diverse assignments at one time, successfully complete assigned tasks and meet deadlines while conducting high-quality work
    • Ability and willingness to travel internationally frequently and flexibly to support policy outreach, scoping research and training events. Most travel will be in sub-Saharan Africa and in addition to between cities in South Africa
    • Demonstrated ability to identify new, high-value opportunities and mobilise both internal and external stakeholders towards working together on the given objective
    • Strong skills in Excel, Word and PowerPoint 

    The following will be highly advantageous:

    • Experience organising, managing and presenting at events which discuss policy lessons
    • Experience doing policy / research work in a range of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa is strongly preferred
    • Experience leading policy outreach including strategically identifying and mobilizing appropriate policymakers, and developing and maintaining these relationships
    • Experience with randomised evaluations, particularly field experience running randomised evaluations of social policies/programmes and policy experience interpreting and sharing policy lessons from randomised evaluations
    • Experience fundraising and writing fundraising proposals
    • Data analysis skills, particularly in Stata
    • French language ability
    • Proven experience in facilitating partnerships and developing projects, ideally with researchers and governments 


    Application Requirement

      To apply, please e-mail the below documents in a single pdf file to Ms Abigail Dixon at

      • UCT Application Form (download at;
      • A letter of motivation, clearly addressing your qualifications for the various responsibilities listed above;
      • Curriculum Vitae (CV); and
      • Transcripts of your grade 12 certificate and university degrees. Note: this is required even though it is not called for in the HR201.
      • Please ensure the title and reference number are indicated in the subject line.
      • An application which does not comply with the above requirements will be regarded as incomplete. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and will be required to undergo competency assessments.
      • Telephone: 021 650 1673 Website:
      • Reference number: E210157 Closing date: 20 April 2021

      UCT is a designated employer and is committed to the pursuit of excellence, diversity, and redress in achieving its equity targets in accordance with the Employment Equity Plan of the University and its Employment Equity goals and targets. Preference will be given to candidates from the under-represented designated groups. Our Employment Equity Policy is available at

        UCT reserves the right not to appoint. 

        About University of Cape Town

        The University of Cape Town (UCT) is South Africa's oldest university, and is one of Africa's leading teaching and research institutions. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, a high school for boys. The College had a small tertiary-education facility that grew substantially after 1880, when the discovery of gold and diamonds in the north – and the resulting demand for skills in mining – gave it the financial boost it needed to grow. The College developed into a fully fledged university during the period 1880 to 1900, thanks to increased funding from private sources and the government.