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FEATURE STORY September 26, 2017

Africa Fellowship Program: Fielding Top Talent to Forward the World Bank Development Mission


  • The Africa Fellowship Program selects 20 Sub-Saharan nationals that are pursuing their Ph.D. or have obtained their Ph.D. to participate in a six-month mission at the World Bank.
  • The program contributes to renewing and enlarging of a diverse pool of experts in the field of development at the World Bank, and enables fellows to gain a greater understanding of the World Bank’s mission and operations.
  • By contributing to research, technical assistance, lending operations, and other critical activities, fellows build capacity and link theory to the reality of development challenges.

WASHINGTON, September 26, 2017–Young budding talent abounds in Sub-Saharan Africa’s higher education institutions, and since 2014, the World Bank Africa region has made it part of it mission to engage with the upcoming generation of African thinkers – PhD students or graduates who are striving to make a difference in their country through knowledge production.

Known now as the Africa Fellowship Program, this opportunity is an annual opportunity for young fellows and World Bank staff alike. For the fellows, 10 outstanding candidates are selected to spend a minimum of six months at the World Bank headquarters in Washington D.C. or country offices to get hands-on experience in the operations of the World Bank Group. They are then encouraged to apply for the World Bank’s prestigious Young Professionals Program that could launch them on a career in development at the World Bank. For staff at the Bank, it’s the chance to build greater capacity, be stimulated by new fresh perspectives, and benefit from cutting edge research work.

“The Africa Fellowship Program contributes to renewing and enlarging of a diverse pool of experts in the field of development, thereby enhancing the sustainability of the World Bank’s effectiveness. Fellows gain a better understanding of the World Bank’s mission and operations, access quality data for their research work, interact with seasoned experts in the field of development and contribute new perspectives and innovative techniques to our analytical work,” says Albert Zeufack, the World Bank’s Chief Economist for Africa. 

The 2016 application process attracted over 3,000 candidates from whom only ten from seven countries were selected. This year, a partnership with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) has enabled the program to open up ten additional fellow positions for PhD graduates or doctoral studies that have experience working on impact evaluations and a specific focus on forced displacement in Africa.

The hopes are that this program will outgrow the World Bank Africa Region and develop in other units of the World Bank to broaden the opportunities for both fellows and staff.

According to Mouhamadou Moustapha Ly, Human Resources Manager for the Africa region, "the group of emerging leaders in this program will gain a deep understanding of the context in which staff at the Bank operate, the rich and diverse culture of the people they help, as well as take stock of the tremendous resilience needed to serve our diverse clientele, especially those in fragile and conflict-affected states."

The call for applications for the 2018 Africa Fellowship Program opens on September 26, 2017, and selected participants should be ready to start the fellowship by January 31, 2018.

“This fellowship has allowed me to exchange directly with World Bank Group experts in the field and learn from their extensive knowledge. It also provides me with critical exposure that I believe will help me in my career going forward,” explains Christelle Meniago, a 2017 fellow from Cameroon. “Having already obtained my Ph.D., this opportunity acts as a stepping stone for my career, and I strongly believe the experience gained here will make me more proficient in other related jobs. When I complete the fellowship, I plan to pursue opportunities at the WBG and other leading international institutions,” she concludes.

Learn more about the application process and the program here. The deadline for applications for the 2018 Africa Fellowship Program is November 19, 2017