Vacancy At African Risk Capacity for Communications Officer

The African Risk Capacity Specialised Agency of the African Union provides African sovereigns with capacity building services for early warning, contingency planning and risk finance. The Agency established its first financial affiliate, ARC Ltd, in late 2013. Operating on mutual insurance principles, ARC Ltd issues parametric weather insurance policies to governments. It uses ARC’s risk modelling and early warning software platform Africa RiskView to estimate the impact of weather events on vulnerable populations – and the response costs required to assist them – before a hazard season begins, and as it progresses. In the case of drought, index-based insurance payouts, based on Africa RiskView, are triggered at or before harvest time if the rains are poor, or as soon as a severe flood or cyclone have occurred. By allowing ARC Member States to capitalize on the natural diversification of weather risk across the continent and access the international markets as a single pool, ARC Ltd reduces transaction costs and premiums to the lowest level possible while remaining financially sustainable.

This early financing immediately following a weather shock is key to improving the efficiency of disaster response, transferring the burden of climate risk away from governments – and the farmers and pastoralists whom they protect – to the ARC, which can handle that risk much better including accessing private sector finance.

With an initial $200 million in seed capital and commitments provided by the governments of Germany (KfW Development Bank on behalf of BMZ) and the United Kingdom (through DFID), ARC Ltd issued drought insurance policies totaling nearly $130 million in coverage for a total premium cost of $17 million to a first group of African governments – Kenya, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal – in May 2014, marking the launch of the inaugural ARC pool. In January 2015, ARC Ltd made its first insurance payouts of just over $26 million to Mauritania, Niger and Senegal as a result of drought conditions in these countries in 2014. The timely funds provided to these Member States enabled them to implement an early response programme to their affected communities, ahead of any humanitarian aid, spearheading efforts to help countries move from managing crises to managing risks in a timely manner.

Three additional countries joined the pool in May 2015, increasing the drought coverage to over $190 million for the 2015/16 rainfall seasons. ARC has a target of up to 30 countries receiving coverage for drought, flood and cyclones totaling approximately $1.5 billion of coverage by 2020. This planned country level coverage alone, with premium payments of $300 million from participating African states, represents indirect insurance coverage for approximately 150 million vulnerable Africans, a significant contribution to the G7’s Elmau commitment of providing climate risk insurance to up to an additional 400 million poor people globally by 2020.

The ARC design and establishment phase was managed by WFP, under a MoU with the African Union, and WFP continues to provide administrative services support to the ARC Agency through an administrative services agreement.

Responsibilities

ARC is seeking a Communications Officer to develop, plan and implement strategic communications, working closely with senior leadership to align communications plans with business and advocacy objectives of both ARC Agency and ARC Ltd. This includes the development and management of ARC’s longer term communications infrastructure, including procurement of consultancy, public affairs, graphic design or other necessary services within an agreed budget and in line with desired outcomes and objectives. This includes:

Public Relations/Media Relations Management – raising the profile of ARC among its stakeholders, the media and the general public and sharing information about ARC’s products, programmes and services. PR-related activities include:

  • Supporting PR events including making arrangements for press attendance and coverage, and preparing materials for participants and media.
  • Identify and build effective collaborations and partnerships internally and externally to align activities, and ensure a coherent approach to communications;
  • Lead capacity building of ARC staff on all aspects of communication, ensuring appropriate training is delivered to staff, leadership and providing advice up the senior management level in order to ensure consistent, quality communications that deliver the desired impact;
  • Management of advertising/sponsorship contracts with media, newspapers when necessary;
  • Development of copy (text in advertisements) and layout (together with the ARC graphic designer and in line with ARC branding guidelines);
  • Integrating social media with more traditional press strategies;
  • Identifying and addressing opportunities to publish articles about ARC in external publications; reviewing articles drafted by the Secretariat;
  • Fielding requests for interviews and preparing messaging for members of the Agency Governing Board, Company Board of Directors, and Secretariat in the print and electronic media;
  • Monitoring coverage of ARC in the news, including providing effective responses in the case of negative coverage and raising awareness in the case of positive coverage;
  • Preparation and dissemination of press releases and media advisory/brief – at least in French and English – to international, regional as well as local (major African cities) press contacts;
  • Anticipating the communications needs of the Agency and the Company and advising the both institutions accordingly;
  • Development and implementation of strategic and forward-looking communications strategies – particularly in light of potential insurance payouts or basis risk events – among African stakeholders through African media, in the international finance, development and industry/trade press;

Stakeholder Outreach and Partnership/Relationship Development – support for maintenance of relationships with ARC’s clients, stakeholders and media and assessing how stakeholders view ARC towards continuous improvement in the operations of the Agency and Company. Activities include:

  • Collaborate with relevant departments to draft and disseminate information and publications for stakeholders;
  • Collaborate with M&E team with regard to stakeholder assessment/analysis – including determining communications actions that should be taken in response to the results, disseminating the outcomes, etc.

Publications Development – providing strategic direction on the types of publications that are to be produced to facilitate better understanding of ARC and its products and services and producing a range of publications for ARC to support these varying needs. Required publications include but are not limited to:

  • Video documentaries, etc.
  • Brochures, flyers, posters;
  • Quarterly newsletters;
  • Quarterly progress reports;
  • Annual reports;

Supervise the development, application and use of Information and Communications Technologies, including Multi-media Product Development – utilising Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to enhance ARC’s overall performance and effectively support the communications and technical portfolios of the Agency and Company. Activities include facilitating:

  • Desktop publishing for developing printed and electronic materials in collaboration with the Agency and/or Company’s graphic designer(s);
  • Email distribution list management;
  • Website development and enhancement;

Events Planning – high level events, press briefings, workshops and meetings to raise awareness and build capacity. Activities include:

  • Organising high-level press and coordination with partners’ press/communications teams around upcoming important events such as the UN General Assembly, high-level side events with African Presidents on the margins of the African Development Bank Annual Meetings and the World Bank/IMF Annual Meeting, the World Humanitarian Summit and other visibility at similarly important policy forums.

Communications Management

  • Plan, design, implement and monitor the communications plan in order to ensure cost effective results, enhance the reputation of ARC, and support fundraising activities, ensuring alignment with ARC’s Agenda for Action and Strategic Framework;
  • Ensure that social media plans are defined and followed which leverage social media content, platforms, networks and partners to enhance coverage and support of ARC’s activities;
  • Oversee the development of a range of donor specific visibility content including, text, photos, videos and audio for use across a range of integrated online platforms, in order to support global and country fund-raising activities, ensuring consistency with ARC messages;
  • Lead and manage a team of Communications Officers, external consultants or firms, develop work plans, set objectives, monitor performance, and ensure appropriate development to enable high performance;
  • Develop key messages and communications strategies aimed at promoting the identity and profile of ARC;
  • Draft and ensure inputs to speeches of senior leadership in close partner institutions such as the AU Chairperson and the African Development Bank President;
  • Ensure contact lists of journalists and media outlets are maintained, a regular flow of news/information about ARC’s work is distributed to its various stakeholders (member states, technical and research institutions, partners, the media, etc) and reputational risks are identified and managed;
  • Reporting communications activities;
  • Working with the M&E department, define performance indicators, and monitor and oversee accurate and timely reporting;
  • Support other departments in the preparation of reporting materials for stakeholders, including providing editing, formatting and branding;
  • Contribute to preparedness actions, providing technical recommendations and guidance and monitoring the management of communications specific risks

Qualifications & Experience Required

Education:

  • Advanced university degree in in Journalism, International Relations, Public Relations, Marketing, Communications or other relevant field, or First University degree with additional years of related work experience and/or trainings/courses.

Experience:

  • A minimum of 8 years of progressively responsible professional experience (at least 3 years of which were gained in an international position and/or organisation), as senior corporate or lead advisor on communications, strategy or public relations;
  • Strong extensive experience in specialised communications practices and expert knowledge of the external context in which these apply;
  • Experience in leading communications strategies in the African context and demonstrates deep familiarity with the media and political environment;
  • Experience in leading multi-functional and cross-geography teams in the delivery of innovative communications projects;
  • Must have pre-existing international network of media contacts – with specific experience on African context;
  • Experience managing external, cost-effective, relationships with public relations firms or consultants, including managing processes for publication production is desired.

Technical Skills & Knowledge:

  • Strong writing skills in English is required;
  • Capacity to work closely with government counterparties, and multi-cultural constituencies;
  • Solid communication, negotiation and interpersonal skills;
  • General knowledge of African Union and UN system policies, rules, regulations and procedures.

Language:

  • Fluency in oral and written English is required
  • Fluency in oral and written French is strongly desired
  • Intermediate knowledge of another AU official language – Arabic or Portuguese – is also desirable.