NAIROBI, February 22, 2011- The World Bank today announced the launch of a new global fellowship program to tap new expertise into its development work and strengthen its knowledge network.
The Fellowship program will enable the Bank to attract global technical and policy experts for three months to a year to provide new perspectives on policy, performance and implementation. Fellows will also contribute to policy analysis, advise governments, promote knowledge sharing, and bring cutting-edge solutions to countries.
The first fellow under the program, Michael Joseph, will advise the Bank and governments on spreading the use of mobile phone banking, drawing on his knowledge and experience at the helm of Kenya’s largest telecommunications service provider.
“I am really deeply honored to have been selected as the first fellow by the World Bank to share my knowledge and experience in mobile innovations,” said Michael Joseph, former Chief Executive Officer of Safaricom. “I am delighted to work with the leading development institution and be part of the global effort to fight poverty.”
Joseph, who remains on the Board of Safaricom, has been credited with the success of the internationally renowned M-pesa, the mobile money platform that enables subscribers to make payments and move cash at a low cost, cutting out intermediaries. M-pesa has become a key asset for people without access to banks.
As a World Bank Fellow, Joseph will provide strategic advice to the World Bank and governments beyond Africa on policy and regulatory issues to promote development of mobile banking and mobile payments.
“Sharing knowledge on telecommunications innovations, including mobile money, can make an important contribution to Africa’s reform and development,” said Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Kenya. “Michael Joseph’s participation in the World Bank Fellows program will leverage the Bank’s interventions in technology and financial services in new frontiers in line with our new Africa Strategy.”
The global sharing of knowledge and innovation will boost growth opportunities for African countries, contributing to better equity and poverty reduction.
Mobile phones are now the leading means of voice communications and internet access, connecting communities and expanding opportunities for economic development. In 2010, the world reached 5.3 billion mobile subscriptions, with more than three billion of them in developing countries. These include 450 million in Africa, representing a penetration of 43 percent.
In Kenya, mobile connectivity has increased rapidly, creating opportunities for financial transfers and information exchange. The World Bank’s December 2010 Kenya Economic Update estimated that more than 21 million Kenyans have access to phones, with 15 million using mobile money services. In December 2010, mobile money services in Kenya reached a new record of almost US$1 billion in transactions.
About the World Bank Fellows Program
The World Bank Fellows Program has been established to encourage the flow of knowledge and innovative ideas between high-level experts who are globally recognized practitioners in their field. These individuals may be located within academia, government or the private sector, and interested to come on short-term assignments to the World Bank.
Fellows provide the World Bank with expert consultation and contribute key technical knowledge and professional experience to issues related to investments in education, health, public administration, infrastructure, financial and private sector development, agriculture, environmental and natural resource management, to name a few.
The World Bank Fellows will open up dialogue on new development issues and lend their expertise and enhance the World Bank’s advice. The program taps the expertise of these highly qualified professionals to meet critical intellectual and analytical needs in the World Bank's priority programs and represent a variety of professions.