Positions in: Kenya, or Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania or elsewhere in Africa

Do you want to help citizens better understand their environment using civic technologies ranging from air sensors to satellite/drone imagery?

Code for Africa (CfA) has an immediate vacancy for a Senior Technologist to join our sensors.AFRICA team to help build digital tools that transform how African cities work. 

The successful candidate will help drive pioneering projects including Africa’s largest network of low-cost ‘citizen science’ sensors, monitoring air quality in 5 countries, using cutting-edge experimental water sensors to detect cholera and other contaminants, and novel hydrophone sensors to detect illegal dynamite fishing and coral bleaching in East Africa’s oceans. You will also help use drone/satellite imagery to help map settlements and better understand how to combat climate change.

CfA is a non-profit technology R&D lab. While robust software/hardware engineering skills are required, no prior air/water/climate monitoring or urban development experience is required.

We will be reviewing applications on a rolling basis so we encourage candidates to apply as soon as possible for consideration.

The successful candidate will report to CfA’s Senior Product Manager on sensors.AFRICA  and will also work with CfA’s wider technology, data, design and content teams in 20 African countries to build robust systems and infrastructures for our partners in watchdog civil society organisations, the investigative media and selected progressive government agencies.

Required: minimum requirements include:

  • BSc/BEng Computer Science, Computer Engineering or equivalent practical experience.
  • 4 years of relevant programming experience, building and operating multi-tier web applications (including REST APIs) using Unix-like operating systems.
  • Deep expertise in Python, C++, C & proficiency in SQL and JavaScript.
  • Working knowledge of modern software development practices and technologies such as Agile methodologies and DevOps.
  • Experience working with and managing columnar and time-series databases for real-time data and analytics.
  • Experience working with metrics and monitoring tools such as Graphana.
  • Self starter with the ability to work effectively in teams across internal and external organisations and virtual teams
  • Ability to design, prototype, validate, test and assemble printed circuit boards (PCBs) using electronic CAD tools such as Eagle.
  • Experience working on PCB post-manufacturing processes including circuit board reflow and soldering, and final testing.
  • Ability to evaluate, propose, and defend proposed choices of new sensor technologies / methodologies to be added to CfA’s existing sensor kits.
  • Data quality assurance for sensor kits that are deployed.

Language and Location Requirements:

  • Location: CfA’s main sensors.AFRICA lab is located in Nairobi (Kenya), but CfA also has additional labs in Abuja (Nigeria), Cape Town or Johannesburg (South Africa), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), and Lagos (Nigeria). The role can be performed remotely, and CfA will therefore consider exceptional applicants from across Africa.
  • Primary language: English
  • Preferred but not required: French, Amharic or Arabic 

About the Role:

The successful candidate will join CfA’s sensors.AFRICA team as a Senior Technologist to help shape its hardware/software choices and to lead development of new digital services. 

The team currently consists of a senior strategist and mid-level hardware/software engineers who have successfully steered sensors.AFRICA through a series of proof-of-concept pilot projects deploying CfA’s own prototype low-cost sensors, as well as working with partners such as the Kenyan National Bureau for Statistics (KNBS) and the South African Medical Research Council to experiment with new ways to use air sensors to create actionable insights/data.

The success of these early projects has prompted CfA to expand the team, ahead of planned rollout of wider citizen-driven sensor networks in key African countries, as well as new research partnerships that will explore who to use low-cost sensors to give communities early warning for cholera outbreaks and other public health emergencies.

As a Senior Technologist, you will help lead sensors.AFRICA’s software/hardware choices and will steer the design and development of data analysis and public-facing digital services for CfA’s external partners, ranging from citizen scientists and grassroots activists, to research institutes and regulatory partners. 

The successful candidate will work as part of a multinational and multilingual team across the continent, and will be comfortable using digital collaboration tools to create open source software/hardware products for a global audience and international partners.

Applicants should possess knowledge of engineering principles and practices, and the fabrication processes (such as 3D printing) to turn designs into devices. Applicants should also be comfortable computing complex engineering calculations, quickly and accurately, while also performing detailed analysis of designs, specifications, and plans, and establishing and maintaining effective working relationships with collaborating partners both within CfA and outside of the organisation.

Responsibilities: Your daily responsibilities will include:

  • Lead the technology team, managing and nurturing a small team of passionate hardware/software engineers, and liaising with the project’s non-technical staff.
  • Shape every aspect of the hardware, software and front-end web-tools architecture and development processes, laying out coherent roadmaps, ensuring quality control and helping to proactively problem-solve.
  • Shape our strategies for standardised sampling and measuring standards, equipment protocols, and data management systems.
  • Improve and optimise the ongoing performance, scalability, and reliability of our hardware/software systems (and documentation) given the growing size of our sensor networks.
  • Help to conceptualise and develop new user-facing applications or services to improve the actionable insights and data delivered by our sensor networks.
  • Ensure consistent and proactive calibration and maintenance for all deployed monitoring equipment, including innovative ways to support volunteer (non-technical) custodians of the equipment at schools, environmental organisations, etc. 
  • Participate in stakeholder consultations or internal strategic discussions, to help non-technical partners understand what is possible and now best to use the technologies to achieve actionable insights.

What We Offer:

  • A competitive salary, subject to experience, with opportunities for performance-based growth, both in terms of career path and public stature.
  • A dynamic workplace, with a transnational team, occasional international travel, and generous vacation benefits.
  • Ongoing opportunities to learn new cutting-edge skills and techniques/technologies to future-proof yourself in a rapidly evolving industry.
  • A chance to shine on a global stage, writing for international audiences and interacting with colleagues around the world.

How to apply:

Please fill in this form: here by 15th May 2021.

About Us:

Code for Africa (CfA) is the continent’s largest network of indigenous African civic technology and investigative data journalism laboratories, with over 70 staff in 19 countries, who build digital democracy solutions that are intended to give citizens unfettered access to actionable information that empowers them to make informed decisions and that strengthen civic engagement for improved public governance and accountability.

This includes building infrastructure such as the continent’s largest open data portal, open.AFRICA, and largest open source civic software portal, commons.AFRICA, as well as the largest repository of investigative document-based evidence, source.AFRICA, as well as incubating initiatives as diverse as the africanDRONE network that gives citizens their own ‘eyes in the sky’, the PesaCheck fact-checking initiative in 12 African countries, and the sensors.AFRICA remote-sensing citizen science initiative to combat air/water pollution.

CfA also incubates the African Network of Centres for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR), as an association of the continent’s best investigative newsrooms, ranging from large traditional mainstream media to smaller specialist units. ANCIR member newsrooms investigate crooked politicians, organised crime and big business. The iLAB is ANCIR’s in-house digital forensic unit, with teams in east, south and west Africa. ANCIR uses its resources to strengthen newsrooms’ own internal capacity, by providing access to the world’s best whistleblower encryption and investigative semantic analysis technologies, as well as skills development, and seed grants for cross-border collaboration.

At CfA, we don’t just accept differences – we celebrate it, we support it, and we thrive on it for the benefit of our employees, our products and our community. CfA is proud to be an equal opportunity workplace and is an affirmative action employer. If you have a disability or special need that requires accommodation, please let us know. 
To all recruitment agencies: CfA does not accept agency resumes. Please do not forward resumes to our employment application line, CfA employees or any other CfA contact. CfA is not responsible for any fees related to unsolicited resumes.