Vacancy Announcement Research Fellow

RESEARCH FELLOW II: Sustainability, Inclusivity and Governance of Minigrids in Africa (SIGMA)

Location of researcher: Nairobi Kenya
Duration: 24 months, starting October/November 2021 (0.8 – 1.0 FTE)
Contact persons:
- Elsie Onsongo, Nuvoni Centre for Innovation Research / Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa, Kenya Hub
- Peter Knorringa, Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa/ International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Application deadline: 5th October 2021

The Organisation
The Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa (CFIA) is a multidisciplinary academic research network which was founded in 2013 through a strategic alliance between three Dutch universities: Delft University of Technology, Leiden University and Erasmus University Rotterdam. Since then, the network has grown to incorporate research hubs in Kenya and India. The CFIA Kenya Hub—which is locally hosted by Nuvoni Centre for Innovation Research—conducts locally embedded research on innovation processes in resource-constrained settings and their economic, social and environmental impacts on development. Current focus areas include healthcare, water, food, energy access, and urban resilience.

The Project
CFIA Kenya Hub is part of a consortium that was awarded a 3-year grant by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Global Challenges Research Fund for a project entitled 'Sustainability, Inclusivity and Governance of Mini grids in Africa (SIGMA)'. The consortium consists of partners from the United Kingdom, Tanzania, Senegal and Nigeria. CFIA Kenya Hub is leading Work Package 4 on the inclusivity analysis. The main aim of this project is to improve our understanding of sustainability, inclusiveness and governance of mini-grids in sub-Saharan Africa.

Objectives of the project
• To develop an evidence base on mini-grid performance in sub-Saharan Africa through an extensive review of local literature, available data with project partners and by undertaking primary data collection from existing mini-grid projects and related stakeholders in Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania, and develop a database of mini-grid projects;
• To undertake in-depth case studies of mini-grid sustainability, inclusiveness and governance in the four countries of sub- Saharan Africa considering technical design, ownership, financial condition, regulatory environment, social embeddedness and environmental impacts. The project would then draw comparisons across countries and across different dimensions to analyse the main issues for mini grids in SSA.
• To organise dissemination and communication activities for impact.
• To develop research collaboration and build research capacity through on the job training of research assistants and research fellows, participation in exchange programmes and research uptake events and networking.

The work is organised in seven work packages. Apart from its contribution in the other 6 work packages, CFIA Kenya Hub is leading a work package focused on inclusivity analysis. Based on the data from the database and the field study, this package will analyse inclusivity questions around community participation and empowerment in access, ownership, deployment and governance of minigrids, gender issues, impact on vulnerable households and enterprises, structural effects, among other related themes. Comparative case studies will be used to highlight the main differences and similarities in four countries.

Role of the Research Fellow
To play a central role in the SIGMA project – in review of literature, fieldwork, data analysis, reporting and publications, coordination across the team members and in supporting/ participating in project events. The fellow will undertake the following tasks:

• Support the project supervisor in leading the ‘inclusivity’ work package in the project: building the thematic focus in relation to other work packages, finalising the systematic literature review on inclusivity, developing the fieldwork protocol, and supporting comparative data analysis and synthesis across countries, and developing expected outputs.
• Support the development of a database of mini-grid projects in Kenya
• Conduct fieldwork in conjunction with the CFIA Kenya Hub team and the consortium at large. Help supervise the research assistants during this process
• Support the analysis of the political economy and sustainability framework of minigrids as designed by other work package leads.
• Support the engagement needs of all the work packages with relevant actors in Kenya such as policymakers in the energy space, private sector actors such as mini grid developers, industry associations, development partners and communities.
• Collaborate with the project supervisor and other consortium partners in producing high quality research outputs for publication in monographs or recognised high-quality journals
• Support the design, planning and implementation of workshops with scholars, policy makers and other stakeholders to disseminate project outputs and outcomes
• Develop technical project reports • Provide updated information on the project for the CFIA and/or SIGMA website and social media channels, and publish blogs The fellow will also support the activities of the CFIA Kenya-Hub in the following ways:
• Assist in building relevant external networks in order to form relationships and collaborations
• Attend and contribute to relevant Kenya-hub internal meetings and external meetings
• Contribute to the preparation of proposals for funding or other applications to external bodies whenever necessary
• Undertake other tasks as may be assigned by the supervisors

Expected Outputs
1. A systematic literature review paper focusing on inclusivity of mini-grids in sub-Saharan Africa
2. A complete compiled secondary database of mini-grid projects in Kenya
3. A dataset consisting of primary data from interviews, observation, surveys where possible, and relevant secondary data on mini grids in Kenya, covering the thematic areas of the project.
4. High-quality manuscripts on selected topics for publication in peer-reviewed journals
5. Blogs and articles for the CFIA and/or project website
6. Technical project reports

The Team
The researcher will be supervised locally by Dr. Elsie Onsongo and will work closely with consortium members from the teams from the University of Sussex and De Montfort University in the United Kingdom, and TaTEDO in Tanzania, the International Centre for Energy, Environment & Development in Nigeria, and ECOWAS Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE). In addition, the researcher will interact with other researchers at the CFIA Kenya Hub and the CFIA LDE partners.

Who are we looking for?
The candidate should possess:
• A PhD in relevant fields including energy, technology, economics, development studies, or other relevant field, with proven research on energy access in resource constrained environments. A registered PhD candidate, or candidates with a Masters degree but with good research work experience in the energy sector in Kenya will be considered.
• A minimum of 2 years of relevant experience in research and policy analysis in the energy sector in Kenya
• Proven capability to organize and conduct fieldwork in rural and semi-urban areas
• Demonstrated experience in conducting qualitative data analysis, and expertise in using qualitative data analysis software
• A good record of academic publications and policy/stakeholder convening will be an added advantage
• Preference will be given to applicants with demonstrated experience in working in research and the policy environment connected to energy access in Kenya, and ambitious career goal around research and development. The candidate should also possess the following skills and competences:
• Excellent interpersonal, management and communication skills with proven ability to support narratives to describe results.
• A team player with ability to build strong international working relationships and academic collaborations
• Ability to work under limited supervision to meet deadlines
• Strong academic writing and presentation skills
• Ability to write effectively and report to different audiences.
• Demonstrated ability to deliver to tight deadlines and to work on a wide range of demands. Conditions of employment
• The successful candidate will be offered an initial fixed term contract of 2 years, on a fulltime basis. Please note that the position is part of an externally funded project, and the agreed budget with the donor allows for a 2-year position. Though it is not expected this will change, the time frame is contingent on the continuation of external funding (at the same level) by the donor agency.
• The remuneration package is inclusive of medical cover.
• The position provides an opportunity to work and establish networks with globally renowned researchers in the field of energy access and frugal innovation.
• The position provides an equal opportunity for all. Additional information and application procedure

For inquiries, you may contact Dr Elsie Onsongo at until the 1st October 2021.
To apply, please send the following documentation, all in one PDF file, via email to, with the subject line ‘SIGMA Research Fellow Position’
• Updated CV of not more than 5 (five) pages including relevant work experience, a list of publications, and 3 (three) relevant referees
• A statement of interest (max. 3 pages) explaining why you are particularly suitable for this position/how you meet the criteria for the position
• Certified copies of degree certificates and transcripts

The application deadline for this position is 5th October 2021.