Positions in: Kenya, 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 Junior Hardware Engineer to join our sensors.AFRICA team to help build digital tools that transform how African cities work. 

The successful candidate will help design the remote sensing and Internet of Things (IoT) devices that underpin sensors.AFRICA’s existing network of low-cost ‘citizen sensors’ that monitor air quality in five countries, as well as improving the cutting-edge experimental water sensors that detect cholera and other contaminants, and novel hydrophone sensors that detect illegal dynamite fishing and coral bleaching in East Africa’s oceans. You will also help customise/deploy drones to map settlements and better understand how to combat climate change.

CfA is a non-profit technology R&D lab. While robust 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 sensors.AFRICA manager, and will also work with CfA’s wider technology, data, design and content teams in 21 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, Mechatronics Engineering or equivalent practical experience.
  • Demonstrated experience in electronics packaging mechanical design.
  • Demonstrated experience designing sheet metal and molded plastic parts in electro-mechanical assemblies.
  • Demonstrated experience designing for low cost, high volume plastic housings and sheet metal components.
  • Experience reading and interpreting data sheets and electrical schematics.
  • Excellent command of electrical engineering fundamentals.
  • Demonstrated experience in revision control using Git and Git workflows.
  • Demonstrated experience in the Espressif MCU ecosystem and ARM-based microcontrollers.
  • Board documentation and liaison with the firmware development team
  • Experience in design of reusable libraries and SDKs is a plus.
  • 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 ECAD tools, preferably Autodesk Eagle and Fusion360.
  • 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 Hardware Engineer to help shape its hardware 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 (SAMRC) 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.

The expanded sensors.AFRICA team will be 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:

  • Work collaboratively with our team of engineers and data scientists in designing, constructing, installing, and operating ambient air quality and meteorological monitoring projects at partner locations throughout Africa.
  • Design sheet metal and molded plastic parts in electro-mechanical assemblies.
  • Follow standard operating procedures for collecting high-quality data meeting regulatory requirements including proper documentation. 
  • Travel for scheduled and unscheduled site visits to client locations. Field work is expected to be about 25% of job responsibilities. 
  • Support office air measurements functions including monitoring field operations, facilitating logistics, validating data, and reporting.
  • Improve and optimise the ongoing performance, scalability, and reliability of our hardware systems (and documentation) given the growing size of 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 30 August 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.