Call for Proposals: Ecomomist
Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
Opportunity closing date: 
Friday, 10 August, 2018
Opportunity type: 

These terms of reference detail the required services and available resources for an Economist consultant. This includes scope of work, work timeline, available budget, application requirements, TOR selection process and selection timeline. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email our Talent Manager Ms. Busi Mbele at is a committed to creating a fully inclusive and diverse environment that embraces difference, cultivates inclusivity and is committed to people feeling like they belong within all teams in the organisation. We actively encourage applicants of all races, ethnicities, religions, ages, genders, sexual orientations and abilities.

Founded in South Africa in 2007, is a South African organisation that uses technologies to solve some of the world’s largest social problems.  We work with governments, international NGOs, foundations and social enterprises to create and deliver essential information and vital services. Today, our team of approximately 60 staff are truly global - with our main offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and satellite offices out of India, The Netherlands, UK, Nigeria and the USA.

Since late 2009 we have been working on using mobile tools and platforms to specifically improve maternal and child health. The first national-sale program we worked on between 2010 and 2013 was MAMA - the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action program in South Africa. The aim of this was to use basic mobile tools to generate demand for maternal health services.

Although not integrated with the National Department of Health systems, we have managed to build 4 mobile channels (SMS, Mobi Site, a Mxit Platform and a USSD-quiz service) that reached over 800,000 over the grant period. Through this work in leading the MAMA South Africa consortium of implementing partners, we have gained a lot of knowledge, experience and a lot of the technical platform developed for MAMA, could be repurposed and adapted for the now national-scale platform MomConnect.

Since April 2017 has been the only social impact partner of WhatsApp, allowing us to build tools that require integration with the WhatsApp Enterprise API. This means we are uniquely positioned to develop and experiment with new modes of highly interactive WhatsApp/IP based health interventions, leveraging both the functionality of WhatsApp and richer outcome data (e.g. message reading and uptake).

Patient Engagement Lab

The Praekelt Patient Engagement Lab is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to develop rapid evaluation frameworks for mobile health messaging platforms. The Lab is expanding both intervention and evaluation options in mobile health, with an emphasis on increasing user engagement with mobile services via adaptive, personalised and data-driven methodologies. Evaluation cycles, processes and technical tools are being built on WhatsApp and SMS and designed for both scale and sustainability in resource-constrained settings. Proof of concept implementations are currently being run on the MomConnect programme, a national mHealth maternal messaging platform with 800,000 active users at any one time and on specialised digital networks and platforms.


  • Advising on and conducting descriptive and inferential data analysis, in close collaboration with data science team when working with big data
  • Contribute to designing experiments
  • Work closely with data science and engineering to develop data pipeline and semi-automated analysis
  • Preparation of meta-data and documentation
  • Develop theoretical foundations for research studies
  • Collaborating to write up results and present findings    
  • Preparing data visualisations
  • Drafting results and papers
  • Reviewing, copyediting and proofreading others' work, particular data visualisations and statistical tables / results
  • Draft technical reports and write up results for in a range of formats and for a range of audiences, including blogs, toolkits and peer-reviewed articles
  • Support training and development of skills and capacity within internal team


Designing experiments measuring impact of behaviour change strategies on mobile messaging platforms. Review and secondary analysis of completed experiments. Work will include drafting and preparing protocols, ethics applications and experimental content (with assistance from copywriters and content specialists). Analytical review and implementation of analyses for factorial experiments on digital platforms; input on experimental designs and theoretical foundations; report drafts on results. Possible work on setting up and implementing adaptive trials.


Praekelt.Org is a South African organisation, with a Head Office in Johannesburg and its Research and Data Science teams based in Cape Town. The Patient Engagement Lab is also based in Cape Town South Africa, with one team member in New York. 

Praekelt.Org is, however a remote working company. Candidates anywhere in the world will therefore be considered, with preference given in the following order to candidates who are:

  • Based in Cape Town
  • Based in Johannesburg
  • Based elsewhere in South Africa
  • Based in New York
  • Based elsewhere in the world

Candidates must have the legal right to work in the country in which they are based.


The TOR application will close on 30 July 2018 and consultants will be expected to begin as soon as possible, and by 30 August 2018 at the latest. The contract will be for three months.

Consultant Profile


  • Relevant PhD (Level 4)
  • Minimum two years of research experience, with at least 1 year working in academic research setting
  • Relevant subjects: Econometrics, economics, biostatistics, epidemiology, applied statistics, medical statistics, computational sociology
  • Advanced statistics including familiarity with the following:        
    • Survey analysis         
    • Adaptive trials
    • Non-parametric methods
    • Time series
    • Programming one or more statistical languages (ideally Matlab, R, Python)
  • Experience
    • Working in an academic research environment
    • Leading own analyses
    • Preparing grant applications and technical working or peer-review papers
  • Excellent technical writing in English
  • Quick earner


  • Understanding how to conduct power calculations for field experiments or trials
  • Experience teaching or training younger researchers
  • Applied analysis in development, health, technology, social or behavioural science    
  • Background     in health, behavioural or experimental economics (or, less so, developmental)
  • Interest and affinity for programming; experience/capacity to use SQL
  • Knowledge of behavioural economics
  • Knowledge / interest in social network analysis and/or meta-analysis
  • Experience with conducting diverse analyses across disciplines and contexts
  • Experience conducting break-even and cost-effectiveness analyses

Application Process

To apply, please submit the following in pdf format:

  • Up to date academic/publishing CV
  • One published or unpublished paper for which you conducted the analysis
  • Sample code from the paper (STATA, R, Matlab or Python)
  • Cover letter stating:
    • Availability over contracting period
    • Possible start date
    • Day rate in USD
    • Location and work status (where you are allowed to work)

The above information must be received by Ms. Busi Mbele, by 10 August  2018 for you to be considered for this position.  

If you meet our criteria, we will contact you for a remote interview via Google Hangouts or Skype. Please make sure to test that Google hangouts is working before the interview takes place. Depending on the number of candidates, we may have multiple rounds of interviews.

Praekelt Patient Engagement Lab Bios

The following are short biographies of the main contacts that the consultant will have access to in order to gain more information and documentation, as is needed. Please be aware that this does not represent the entire technical team but only those people who will be actively working with the consultant. The rest of the technical team will be consulted when needed.

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