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World Resources Institute Africa (WRI) – Senior Research Associate – Clean Energy Transition Africa.

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Job Summary:

Africa’s role in the global energy transition is unique as the least electrified yet fastest growing continent on the globe, crucially in need of resilience investments. To ensure ambitious goals and commitments for Africa, robust evidence-based positions and leadership from the continent are crucial, requiring knowledge brokering with the continent’s key stakeholders. Africa’s leading institutions on energy transitions have clearly articulated the urgent need for data and evidence.

WRI Africa is conducting a targeted research and engagement program that provides local stakeholders the tools and evidence to form and articulate informed perspectives on just transition pathways for African countries, including their costs, risks, benefits, and trade-offs. The ultimate goal of this work is facilitating the development of Africa energy transition plans and pledges.

Our work will involve fully unpacking the key models being used, their assumptions and divergences, to unpack the spectrum of viable transition pathways. We will synthesize the highest-quality data, filling gaps where necessary, to produce new insight on sectoral electrification opportunities, decarbonization opportunities, technology adoption, lock-in and asset risks, and long-term economic trade-offs. This will allow us to answer country-level questions including:

  • What are projected emissions implications both near-term and long-term under different energy pathways?
  • What are estimates of the economic and financial risks under each pathway scenario?
  • What are the cost and investment requirements for these pathways, especially those involving significant electrification of other sectors?
  • What are the economic trade-offs of pathways over the long-term including revenues, jobs, energy access delivery and more?

The successful candidate will be responsible for designing and conducting analyses which answer some of the most complex and challenging questions for Africa’s power sector, identifying what is needed over the next 30-50 years to deliver economic development, universal energy access, and to support rising living standards. They will be responsible for leading and conducting our research and data synthesis work across at least two countries of focus, one in East and West Africa.

The successful candidate will have an appetite to grip the big picture and the systems-implications of the energy transition, while being a strong modeler with deep understanding of the details underpinning analytical work. The candidate will be proactive and able to deliver autonomously, taking ownership for delivery of the work program.

The successful candidate will work closely with the energy, climate, and governance/equity programs as well as other research colleagues from the global and Africa teams to develop technical briefs that will inform a shared position and vision on Africa’s clean energy transition.

This effort will be developed as a joint project, co-delivered with partner(s) bringing a range of expertise. As such, we are seeking an individual with experience in building and maintaining highly collaborative working relationships with external partner organizations to co-lead the program.  This role will also involve coordinating with targeted key data and research institutions or government agencies; and managing the work and outputs of sub-granted local partners.

Additionally, the Senior Associate will also be part of the growing WRI Africa Energy team, working to build and disseminate the narrative that highlights the momentum and economic opportunities of clean energy transition for the region.

This role will report to the Director of Research, and work closely with the Global Energy Program Director, along with the program Leads from partnering organizations.

Job Responsibilities:

Research & Publication (70%)

  • Become the “go to” WRI expert on Africa’s power system, creating high quality analytical outputs, articulating an WRI Africa perspective on the most complex elements of the energy transition, and inform discussions with industry & policy makers
  • Conduct long-term, in-depth quantitative and qualitative analysis (including power sector simulation, cost benefit analysis, and financial modeling), overcoming data gathering & analytical roadblocks and quality assuring outputs produced by others
  • Competently build, direct and refine complex models of the power sector and energy economics, identifying analytical gaps, limitations and opportunities
  • Synthesize analytical insights to bring clarity & structure on complex and disparate energy transition topics
  • Formulate analytically robust, high-ambition, compelling narratives based on analytical work, refining for multiple audiences (e.g. senior executives, technical experts, policy makers)
  • Refine analyses and subsequent narratives in close collaboration with partner organizations, industry players & external experts
  • Produce knowledge products (e.g. articles, reports, briefs, data products) that adhere to WRI’s quality guidelines
  • Produce workshop materials, policy briefs, technical papers, long-form reports, and other relevant materials with the support of the ETC’s Analytical Team

Communication & Stakeholder Engagement (20%)

  • Work with the WRI communications team and partners to develop communication assets suitable for a broader audience, leveraging the team’s analysis and insights
  • Work closely with the communications team to develop a communications strategy for the release and sharing of insights/briefs, co-authored op-eds, and other key thought leadership content
  • Work with the energy transitions engagement lead to orchestrate stakeholder interactions, including bilateral meetings, workshops, and wider industry event participation
  • Work with the energy transitions engagement lead to prepare and drive discussions with stakeholders to build a high-ambition consensus on steps to be taken to deliver a mid-century net-zero economy
  • Engage in public speaking on technical elements of the program’s work

Analytical Program Management (10%)

  • Structure the energy transition analytical program for Africa, developing appropriate methodologies and approaches, and synthesizing insights
  • Managing and ensuring high-quality output from both the in-house analytical team (which may involve managing 1-2 junior analysts) and jointly supervise output from external sub-grant partners
  • Ensure day-to-day management of multiple simultaneous workstreams and competing priorities, adapting to evolving policy and business landscapes
  • Develop and maintain strong relationships with project partners and donors
  • Contribute to research and fundraising proposals and the fundraising process
  • Ensure sound donor stewardship, good grant management, and timely communication and reporting.

Job Qualifications:

  • Master’s degree or Ph.D. in energy systems, energy economics, or related field, demonstrating significant mastery of analytical methods
  • Minimum of 7 years of relevant research and analytics experience in a high-calibre environment specifically in the energy field, and with a focus on African country contexts
  • Strong subject matter expertise in energy systems and international energy markets, with a track record of working with energy sector stakeholders in Africa
  • Experience in conducting and publishing research on energy systems in Africa, with demonstrable execution of modeling techniques
  • Demonstrated expertise in structing and prioritizing a complex, multiple-faceted research work program
  • Demonstrable expertise in engaging with government, academia and CSOs involved in energy research in Africa
  • Superb interpersonal and networking skills and demonstrated ability to work collaboratively with others as well as independently and with the highest standards of integrity
  • Proactive and self-starter, appetite for working autonomously in a fast-paced environment
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills – confident leading high-quality quantitative and qualitative analytics on a range of different topics
  • Able to structure analysis to solve critical questions and provide insights to senior stakeholders
  • Detail-orientated while also able to understand the big picture and draw conclusions at the system-level
  • Ability to develop compelling narratives based on quantitative and qualitative data, tailoring messages and content as appropriate for audience
  • Proven track-record leading and managing an analytical project team
  • Applying rigorous quality assurance (content, narrative and clarity of messages)
  • Excellent communications skills (verbal, written, presentation)
  • Confident writing concise, well-structured documents (in both report and presentation formats) conveying clear but subtle messages
  • Comfortable presenting and facilitating discussions in a range of settings
  • Sensitivity to the political and cultural environment of African stakeholder groups

Desirable

  • Proficiency in French
  • Experience in fundraising, proposal and bid writing

How to Apply:

Applicants must submit CV, cover letter, and sample of a first-authored or single-authored peer-review publication that demonstrates modeling and analytical experience. A resume and cover letter must be submitted in English to be considered. Applicants must apply through the WRI Careers portal to be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 20 May 2022

Program Overview:

WRI Africa — WRI has been working in Africa for more than 30 years, supporting local partners and Africa governments to advance forest protection, landscape restoration and sustainable cities. In recent years, we appointed our first vice president for Africa, established a regional hub in Addis Ababa, and created a region-wide strategy.  Our vision for Africa is an inclusive transformation so Africa’s people and landscapes flourish. WRI Africa generates actionable knowledge across three strategic pillars: vital landscapes, thriving and resilient cities, and institutional and economic transformation.

WRI’s Energy Program made up of over 90 experts across 9 WRI offices – collaborates with policymakers, cities, companies, utilities, regulators, and development institutions to secure a clean energy future for everyone. We focus on ensuring that people have affordable, reliable, clean and low carbon energy. In Africa, our energy access work has sought to build demand for electricity in the development sector – particularly in the health and livelihoods/agriculture sectors. We work closely with utilities, regulators and energy planners at national and sub-national levels as well as development organizations to integrate clean energy in development sectors.

Following a recent refresh of our WRI Africa strategy, we are expanding the energy program scope to provide needed capacity and technical support in the clean energy transition for Africa. We will continue our collaborations with utilities and policy makers across the region, providing much-needed data and analysis to influence increased investments in the clean energy sector.

WRI Overview:

World Resources Institute (WRI) is an independent, nonprofit global research organization that turns big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity, and human well-being. We are working to address seven critical challenges that the world must overcome this decade to secure a sustainable future for people and the planet: climate change, energy, food, forests, water, sustainable cities, and the ocean.

We are passionate. We value our diversity of interests, skills, and backgrounds. We have a flexible work environment. And we share a common goal to catalyze change that will improve the lives of people. Our shared ideals are at the core of our approach. They include integrity, innovation, urgency, independence, and respect.

The foundation of our work is delivering high-quality research, data, maps, and analysis to solve the world’s greatest environment and international development challenges and improve people’s lives. We work with leaders in government, business, and civil society to drive ambitious action and create change on the ground. Equally important, we bring together partners to develop breakthrough ideas and scale-up solutions for far-reaching, enduring impact.

We have been growing rapidly: our staff has doubled in size over the past 5 years, and our operating budget is nearing $200 million. Founded in 1982, WRI has a global staff of over 1,600 people with work spanning 60 countries. We have offices in Africa, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Colombia and the United States, as well as a growing presence in other countries and regions. 

WRI is committed to advancing gender and social equity for human well-being in our mission and applies this principle to our organizational and programmatic practices.

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