We are seeking an experienced Country Office support specialist to join Giga, an initiative to connect every school in the world to the Internet and every young person to information, opportunity and choice. The Data and Country Coordination Officer will work within the Giga Global Country Engagement team and closely with the Giga Mapping team to support UNICEF Country Offices in initiating Giga and to coordinate the receipt of accurate and clean school location and connectivity data from the governments.
Your main responsibilities will be…
Support new interest from countries
- Develop standard materials for country level engagement (onboarding decks, guidelines and other supporting materials)
- Respond to new inquiries and interest and present Giga to UNICEF Country Offices and governments
- Define country specific needs and value add to inform engagement with potential funders, partners and financial models
Support in-country implementation in active Giga countries
- Support Country Offices in developing Giga-specific work plans
- Capture lessons learned from in-country implementation and share with global Country Engagement team
Track country level engagement and implementation status and outcomes of technical assistance
- Maintain up-to-date data in project management tool and coordinate inputs from all teams
- Manage Country Engagement team meeting agendas
Liaise between Country Offices and Giga Mapping team
- Support Country Offices in developing workplans to implement mapping work in their respective countries
- Track country data submissions to ensure they follow Giga data quality standards
- Technical support/advice to deploy solutions to fill gaps and complete mapping work
To qualify for this position, you will have…
- An advanced university degree (Master’s or higher) in statistics, economics, social sciences, development sciences, and management or related degree is required. *A first University Degree in a relevant field combined with 2 additional years of professional experience may be accepted in lieu of an Advanced University Degree.
- Minimum 5 years of experience in the field of development, ideally within UNICEF, and with experience or strong exposure to programming in Country Offices.
- Experience in facilitating engagements with an array of partners at the national/regional level, i.e. international development organisations, government entities, regulators, or civil society, etc.
- Experience with data visualizations and modelling would be considered an asset
- Understanding of AI algorithms such as deep learning, UNET would be considered an asset
- Experience with geospatial data processing would be considered an asset
- Experience in monitoring and reporting
- Strong planning/organizing skills
- Knowledge of national policy frameworks related to technology development, implementation, and infrastructure development is desired
- Strong written and verbal communication skills, including presentation skills
- Proven capacity to work with collaborative teams across different locations and with different technical skills
- Proven experience in translating complex ideas from various fields into unified, clear guidance
- Fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another official UN language (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish) or a local language is an asset.
About Our Team
We are a fast-paced, multi-disciplinary team of software engineers, finance specialists, data scientists, policy experts, and much more. Our team is a distributed workforce and plans to remain distributed into the foreseeable future.
We are growing fast. Our team has grown by over 400% in the last 6 months as we rapidly scale to meet our stated mission.
The Country Engagement team supports Country Offices in initiating Giga, technical discussions with the government and developing work plans, develops and provides guidance materials and ensures coordination with partner ITU at HQ and regional levels. The team tracks developments, progress and challenges for Giga implementation in-country, and iterates implementation processes based on lessons learned. The team is currently supporting over 30 Country Offices in all UNICEF regions (most are in East and Southern Africa, Central America and the Caribbean and Central Asia), but the demand for more information and engagement on Giga is growing, and the cohort of countries needing support for Giga implementation is expected to increase over the next few months.
The Officer will coordinate engagement with UNICEF Country Offices and, where relevant, other national stakeholders, for implementation of Giga in priority countries. This includes acting as the liaison between the Country Offices and the Giga Mapping team, coordinating data and mapping activities at the country level, ensuring reception of quality and completeness of school location and connectivity data and engagement of relevant stakeholders, tracking and coordinating Giga in-country implementation on an ongoing basis.
The Officer will provide professional technical and operational support to Country Offices that are interested in or are just initiating Giga. The consultancy will contribute to strengthening the quality of support and guidance materials made available to Country Offices, the coordination of Giga mapping support to Country Offices, reporting of country implementation progress, and the coordination with our partner ITU.
Launched in 2019 as a joint-initiative between UNICEF and ITU, Giga has set the ambitious goal to connect every school in the world to the internet.
Half of the world’s population has no regular access to the Internet. Millions of children leave school without any digital skills, making it much more difficult for them to thrive and contribute to local and global economies. This has created a digital divide between those who are connected and those who are not, a divide that has become even wider during the Covid-19 pandemic. UNICEF and ITU have therefore joined forces to create Giga, an initiative to connect every school in the world to the Internet and address this new form of inequality.
Giga focuses on connecting schools so that children and young people have access to information, opportunity, and choice. It also uses schools as anchor points for their surrounding communities: if you connect the school, you can also connect local businesses and services. This creates opportunities for service providers to generate revenue from paying users, making connectivity more sustainable. A recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit found that a 10% increase in school connectivity can increase effective years of schooling by 0.6% and increase GDP per capita by 1.1%.
You cannot fix a problem unless you can see it, so the first step is to map schools and their connectivity levels. Giga uses machine learning to scan satellite images and identify schools. These are then marked by coloured dots on an open-source map: green where there is good connectivity (over 5mb/s); amber where it is limited; and red where there is no connectivity at all. The project has already mapped over 920,000 schools in 40 countries, including several which were previously unknown to governments.
Connecting every school in the world could cost US$428 billion or more. Much of the funding already exists but it is not always well aligned. Giga therefore works with governments to unlock public funds for use in delivering connectivity and to attract private investors by reducing the risks in harder-to-reach areas. We are also proposing a $5 billion Bond to finance last-mile connectivity and catalyze large-scale investment. The bond would be backed by donor governments and private foundations, much like the one issued by Gavi / IFFiM to deliver vaccines around the world.
Once school connectivity has been mapped and financing secured, Giga works with a range of partners to bring the Internet to schools. We support governments in designing competitive procurement processes. We are also developing real-time payment mechanisms, meaning that if a dot on the connectivity map is only green for three hours a day, the provider only gets paid for three hours of access. Giga is already connecting schools in 19 countries and is prototyping several test solutions, including in refugee camps and remote, mountainous regions.
Just as building railroads allowed previously isolated towns to flourish, providing good quality Internet access will allow communities to participate in the digital economy for the first time. But Giga’s work in laying the tracks for connectivity is only one part of a wider effort to bridge the digital divide. UNICEF’s Reimagine Education initiative brings all of this work together and has set the goal of connecting every child and young person – some 3.5 billion – to world-class digital learning solutions by 2030. In addition to Giga, it includes components focusing on the affordability of data and content, access to devices, teacher certification and the engagement of young people. Along with ITU’s digital skills programme and other initiatives, Reimagine Education aims to ensure that, once connected, young people are empowered with the tools they need to shape their own futures.
Our partners are a huge part of our work, supporting us with both financial resources and in-kind support. We currently have a portfolio of a small group of major financial partners, and a larger group of others who provide technical assistance on important projects, including data sharing, cost model development, and more.
You can read more about Giga’s work at https://gigaconnect.org/ and by following us on twitter @Gigaconnect
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone. And we never give up.
UNICEF has a 70-year history of innovating for children. We believe that new approaches, partnerships and technologies that support realizing children’s rights are critical to improving their lives.
Payment details and further considerations
- Consultants are paid monthly
- Consultants are responsible for their own health and travel insurance
- Consultant is eligible for standard budget allowances for all work-related travel