Director, Research and Development

World Food Programme, South Africa

Skill Required:, IT and ICTResearch and Analysis
Preferred Experience: 
Above 10 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 
15th September, 2019

Job Description


The African Risk Capacity (ARC), is Africa’s sovereign insurance pool and early disaster response mechanism.1 Owned and governed by its countries, ARC empowers its member states to be in the driving seat of response by reinforcing national systems and providing governments with access to immediate funds for early and planned responses to populations affected by natural disasters. Merging traditional approaches of disaster relief and risk quantification with the concepts of risk pooling and transfer, ARC has created a unique pan-African disaster response system providing a sustainable African-led strategy for managing extreme weather risks. By anticipating and not reacting to disasters, ARC countries are developing the capacity to protect development gains and build a more resilient Africa.

A Specialised Agency of the African Union, ARC counts 32 AU countries as members to date.2 In 2014, it launched its initial risk insurance product for its member states through its financial affiliate the ARC Insurance Company Limited (ARC Ltd). ARC Ltd is a specialist hybrid mutual insurance company, aggregating risk by issuing insurance policies to participating governments and transferring it to the international market. ARC Ltd uses the satellite weather surveillance software Africa RiskView, developed by ARC Agency, to estimate the impact of drought on vulnerable populations – and the response costs required to assist them – before a season begins, and as it progresses, so that index-based insurance payouts, based on Africa RiskView, are triggered at or before harvest time if the rains are poor. To date, Africa RiskView has been customised by 11 ARC Member States, and reviewed by 23 international reinsurers and top-three global reinsurance broker. It has been used to transfer over $500 million of drought risk from ARC Member States since 2014 and has triggered over $34 million in payouts to four countries.

With plans to add flood and tropical cyclone insurance products, ARC aims to expand the reach and coverage it provides and to contribute significantly to the G7’s goal of insuring 200 million vulnerable people in Africa by 2020. In addition, following the Ebola crisis, ARC was requested by its Member States to explore outbreak and epidemic risk coverage and is also working on a new climate adaption financing mechanism, called the Extreme Climate Facility, for eligible countries already managing their weather risk through ARC. All of these product and programme initiatives are managed by ARC Agency’s Research & Development Department.


ARC is now looking for a new Director to lead the Research & Development Department. The Director will be responsible for leading and executing the ARC Agency’s research and development strategy and work programme, ensuring ARC remains on the cutting edge of global parametric risk management and modelling technology innovation. This programme includes the design and launch of new insurance products and associated country work programmes (including flood, cyclone and outbreak and epidemic (O&E) risk), the further refinement and development of Africa RiskView for drought and on-going technical ARC Agency activities, the design and deployment of new financing initiatives, such as the Extreme Climate Facility (XCF), and the development of other special projects of the Director General. The ARC Director of Research & Development will:

  • Under the overall supervision of the Director General and the direct supervision of the Chief Operating Officer, and in collaboration with other departments of the institution and staff, spearhead the research and development (R&D) strategy of the African Risk Capacity, ensuring it is aligned with ARC’s growth goals and Member State demand and is a solid and integral part of ARC operations and services.
  • Manage and further develop ARC’s innovative, multiple project, multiple partner and multi-disciplinary R&D work programme with a focus on long-term sustainability for ARC and knowledge transfer for the continent.
  • Lead, manage and further develop ARC’s R&D programme to ensure a strong, cohesive Department with a high-performing team that delivers on ARC’s R&D objectives and provides effective support to other ARC operating units.
  • Develop the Africa RiskView software and risk models to improve existing ARC insurance products, and ensure ARC remains at the cutting-edge of global risk management and modelling technology.
  • Work with ARC Ltd. to design, develop and successfully deploy new ARC insurance products and programmes, including flood, tropical cyclone, O&E and XCF, and the specialist service providers working on these initiatives, to meet Member States demand while meeting the highest standards of risk transfer best practice.
  • Identify and develop new initiatives, and supervise the R&D of other special projects with technical and strategic importance to the Agency.
  • Ensure that evaluation, audit, intellectual property, quality control and assurance, sustainability and compliance recommendations are efficiently implemented within the R&D work processes, teams and outputs.
  • Organise and staff expert advisory panels to the Director General, for all R&D projects and ARC products.
  • Hold accountability for the standards, processes and outputs of the ARC’s R&D work programme and team members, defining and enabling best practice, efficiency, transparency, innovation and high performance and criteria, while ensuring the optimal use of financial resources for the achievement of ARC’s growth and continental risk management objectives.
  • Conceptualise and implement cutting-edge research, analysis and publications in order to generate greater and always current evidence for ARC’s value proposition to Member States.
  • Identify, build and lead productive relationships with a broad range of partners on the continent, including regional technical institutions, and at the global level to promote ARC’s risk management activities, standards and products, transfer of knowledge and expertise, technological advancement and attract technical, operational and financial support for ARC activities.
  • Contribute to the consistent improvement in the quality, use and customisation of products, developed by the R&D department, by Member States, ARC Ltd, or under license from specialised software and model providers.
  • Implement any other assignment as requested by the Director General or the COO.


Education: Advanced university degree in Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Computer Science, Engineering, Finance, Risk Management or similar relevant quantitative discipline.


  • At least 11 years of postgraduate progressively responsible experience in: weather, commodity or financial risk management; insurance products; and programme development.
  • Expert knowledge of risk modelling, risk financing and/or insurance, particularly for natural disasters, sovereigns and parametric insurance applications.
  • Seasoned management and leadership skills and demonstrated ability to steer multidisciplinary, diverse, geographically disparate teams working on multiple projects in the same direction to effectively achieve ARC strategic goals
  • Ability to take a strategic view across a large complex, multi-disciplinary programme.
  • Self-starter, with track record of successfully managing and launching new, innovative and complex technical projects, developed in-house and with technical partners.
  • Quantitative and technical, with solid knowledge of and ability in statistics, risk modelling and data analysis.
  • Understanding of the (re)insurance and risk transfer markets, particularly with respect to the design of insurance products for agriculture, climate and/or weather related risks and parametric applications.
  • Experience in managing software development.
  • Expertise and experience in designing and deploying programmes for developing countries an advantage.
  • Understanding of the international humanitarian aid, food security, donor and development communities in Africa an advantage.
  • A working knowledge of disaster risk management and climate change adaptation and the international dialogues and debates on climate change and DRR a plus.
  • Excellent writer, communicator and team-worker.
  • Excellent skills in stakeholder management and negotiation.

Language: Fluency in English (Level C) and intermediate knowledge of French (level B).


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