Position Title

Grand Challenges Africa Program Manager  




Position Location

Nairobi, Kenya



3 Years Renewable


Closing date

15 December 2017


Organisation Overview

The AAS is a pan African organisation headquartered in Kenya, which aims to drive sustainable development in Africa through science, technology and innovation. It has a tripartite mandate of pursuing excellence by recognising scholars and achievers; providing advisory and think tank functions for shaping the continent’s strategies and policies; and implementing key Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) programmes that impact on developmental challenges through the agenda setting and funding platform, the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA).

AESA is a new programmatic unit established by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) (Kenya) and the NEPAD Agency AESA aims to foster the long-term sustainable funding and development of global health research leadership and scientific excellence in Africa (see Background for further details).

Key Objectives

As a core member of the AESA team, the GC Africa Program Manager is responsible for the development and management of a strategic portfolio of activities and investments. In addition, the Program Manager will also be responsible for managing, and helping to develop and implement critical process and projects for AESA. The Program Manager must engage effectively at all levels of the organization; collaborate productively with peers and with internal and external partners; exercise sound judgment and influence appropriately to drive AESA goals forward. The Program Manager works most closely with the AESA Director & the GC Africa Grant Officer, and external partners. Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

Key responsibilities

  • Working with the AESA Director and external partners to develop and implement a vision for a Grand Challenges Africa Initiative;
  • Build and manage highly collaborative relationships with internal and external stakeholders to achieve maximum impact of AESA’s goals as outlined in the AESA Business Plan.
  • Engage with the scientific community to encourage, catalyse and promote opportunities for added value and future potential initiatives, strategic partnerships and personal awards to grantees.
  • Nurture and support the development of the AAS-AESA community of researchers to accelerate scientific outputs from across Africa.
  • Manage a portfolio of external projects, including grants and contracts, engage with partners, and monitor progress and outcomes for achieving the greatest impact in a manner that aligns with AESA’s goals and objectives.
  • Represent and communicate AESA’s strategic priorities and goals to key programmatic partners in Africa and globally.
  • Provide input into the development, implementation and ongoing operations of the training and leadership programmes to be provided in support of AESA researchers and other members of the AAS/AESA community relevant to the strategic aims.
  • Develop and help implement a fund-raising strategy for GC Africa.
  • Ensure review groups or decision-making Committees are provided with complete and high-quality information in a timely fashion and that the Committees’ decisions are implemented transparently, accurately and effectively.

Main duties:

Accelerating Science Excellence

  • Participate in the review and development of policies and procedures relating to AESA, and assisting with the implementation of these as required.
  • Ensure familiarity with the portfolio of grant applications in the team’s area of responsibility.
  • Keep abreast of scientific field to inform the generation of new lines of work and improvements to existing program portfolios.
  • Lead and influence data driven strategy planning, development and execution
  • Participate in the compilation of special activity reports, assessment reports, surveys, studies among others.
  • Engage with applicants and other external stakeholders in relation to the portfolio.
  • Manage a portfolio of awards and providing advice and guidance, stimulating collaborations and participating in the assessment of funded activities by evaluating the outputs and outcomes.
  • Participate in review meetings and advisory boards of funded programmes.
  • Participate in horizon scanning activities and contributing to the development of new schemes and initiatives, working in partnership with other funders where appropriate.
  • Nurture the AESA scientific community by directly supporting initiatives and researchers under the assigned portfolio.
  • Engage with other funders to keep abreast of their strategies and grant making practices
  • Inform and developing learning sessions and learning objectives by engaging and influencing programmes. Convening and managing relevant internal and external experts and thought leaders to provide content for the learning agenda; building and maintaining an advisory body of credible players able to provide advice, influence and experiences to inform AESA strategy and priorities

Grants Management

  • Responsible and accountable for the operation of the Grants Operations Functions of GCA.
  • Ensuring grants processing and cross-cutting activities are achieved according to agreed operational standards.
  • Undertaking the processing of grant applications and other duties (including providing cover for team absences).
  • Following review groups or decision-making Committee meetings ensuring that all tasks necessary to convey and implement effective and transparent decisions of the review groups or decision-making Committees are undertaken by the team.
  • Keeping abreast of relevant funding policies and feeding into the development of new policies.
  • Shape and directly manage a growing pipeline of innovations in products, services and implementation models that have the potential for the greatest impact.
  • Source relevant information about innovations aligned with the Global Strategy for Grand Challenges Africa from partner organizations for comparative analysis.
  • Work with the team and external experts to ensure a trustworthy curation process which results in a robust, defensible evaluation of innovations against criteria that are meaningful for investors and identify those that can be scaled up.
  • Engage potential investors (e.g., Innovation Marketplace partners, governments, private corporations) and intermediaries to investors (e.g., investment banks, angel investors) with opportunities to invest in the critical testing and scaling of innovations.
  • Be a brand ambassador and thought leader for the Innovation Marketplace; promote its activities and opportunities through external collaborations, presentations and communications with potential and established partners, innovators, and external thought leaders.
  • Undertaking any other duties that may be required from time to time.

Professional, Skills and Experience

  • Degree and post-graduate qualification - MD or PhD in a discipline related to human health and development and Science Research.
  • 10+ years of related experience
  • Significant knowledge and understanding of the grants funding environment for Africa.
  • Proven experience in leading a team and of direct line management
  • Evidence of ability to effectively manage multiple schemes/initiatives with discrete processes.
  • Knowledge of, and breadth of interest in health research for Africa. Project management experience and expertise.
  • Previous experience with partnerships development and alliances will be an asset.
  • Good knowledge of budget management
  • Previous exposure and experience in assessment, monitoring or evaluation of projects
  • Knowledge and experience in project-level results reporting, data management and analysis, ideally for global health and development initiatives

Application: The position is open to qualified candidates who can work in Kenya. Applicants must email a completed application form from the AAS website, curriculum vitae, and a cover letter to, with the Position and Vacancy Number as the Subject by 15 December 2017. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.