Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, seeks to engage a researcher to review the activity of the African Development Bank over the past 18 months.

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, (CHR), is an internationally recognised institution combining academic excellence and impactful activism to advance human rights, particularly in Africa. Through education, research and advocacy supports the African Union’s infrastructure and improves the enjoyment of human rights on the African continent. 

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group is a regional multilateral development finance institution established to contribute to the economic development and social progress of African countries that are the institution’s regional member countries. The AfDB Group comprises three entities: the African Development Bank (ADB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). As the premier development finance institution on the continent, the AfDB’s mission and overarching objective is to spur sustainable economic development and social progress helping reduce poverty, improve living conditions for Africans and mobilise resources for the continent’s economic and social development. The AfDB achieves this objective by mobilising and allocating resources for investment in regional member countries and providing policy advice and technical assistance to support development efforts. The proposed theme for the 2021 AfDB Annual Meetings is “Building Resilient Economies in Post COVID-19 Africa.” 

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Organisation: Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
Job Title: Researcher
Duration: 1 month
Contract Type: Individual Consultant
Closing Date: 15 August 2021 

PROJECT TITLE: Support to ACHPR and COVID-19 Response Measures: 
Monitoring AfDB Response to COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa 


There have been several efforts from civil society globally to track and monitor the activity of IFIs to support countries in response to the COVID-19 crisis. However, emphasis has been placed on the World Bank and IMF as the two leading players. Specific to the African continent, the AfDB activity over the past 18 months has not been tracked to a similar degree. 

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, IFI advocacy had mostly targeted the World Bank Group and IMF. Research has been done around their influence on social service delivery through their technical advice, loans and projects. The IFC specifically has been on the hook for its investments in private sector delivery of basic social services such as health and education. There have been significant wins on this front as the institution has over time, pledged to stop funding low fee profit schools, such as Bridge Schools which were operating widely in Africa despite outcry due to various human rights violations. There have been great strides in improving the way the World Bank and IMF operate due to civil society and other actors influencing and monitoring. On the continent, the AfDB continues to operate without much scrutiny or monitoring from civil society actors in Africa yet the pool of its resources continues to increase. In 2019, the AfDB received more than double of its original capital from its shareholders ($93 billion to 208 billion)—the largest ever capital increase in its history. This was right before the COVID-19 crisis. 

It is from this context that the Centre for Human Rights seeks to engage a researcher to review the activity of the AfDB over the past 18 months with a focus on:

  1. Loans extended to African countries during the pandemic: What were they to be spent on, transparency and accountability mechanisms and proposals for the recovery period;
  2. Any Loans/grants (if at all) extended to the private sector during COVID-19; 
  3. An analysis of the measures recipient countries have put in place to address the social-economic impact of the pandemic.

This information should be able to show whether the AfDB is promoting social service delivery during COVID-19 and beyond, which type of private sector projects it is funding and whether civil society is involved in this process, as it should. 


The primary objective of the Project is to ensure “Enhanced Capacity of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and Collection of Evidence on COVID-19 Measures by African Countries”. This overall objective is defined by a number of benchmarks including the need:

i. To facilitate evidence generation and documentation in relation to government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa;
ii. To draw attention to the role and impact of international financing institutions (IFIs) on pandemic response—with a particular focus on the role of the African Development Bank (AfDB).


A research paper of approximately 15 000 words, submitted by 30 September 2021.


The Study is mainly a desk review and will primarily entail a thorough analysis of relevant AfDB’s documents including Constitutive documents, loans and grants issued to African countries to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as of June 30, 2021, and any other relevant information. The study should rely on a broad analysis of the available literature including country reports and other stakeholder analysis on COVID-19, its impact on Africa and response measures being undertaken.


Applicants must have the following qualifications and experience:

  1. An advanced university degree (masters or equivalent) in international human rights law, economics, international relations, international development/ development financing, or any other related field; 
  2. An in-depth understanding of the African human rights system and operations of the AfDB;
  3. A proven record of research and publications in international human rights law, international relations, international development and financing and related subject field with strong analytical skills; 
  4. Excellent English speaking/writing skills; and
  5. Demonstrable experience of undertaking similar assignments.


The following skills and experience will be an added advantage: 

  1.  Fluent knowledge of another AU language in addition to English 
  2. Experience of working with AfDB or working on International development financing 


Interested applicants should submit the following documents to arnold.kwesiga@up.ac.za by 15 August 2021, indicating “Researcher for Monitoring AfDB COVID Response Study” in the subject of the email:

  1. Cover letter detailing the applicant’s suitability for the assignment, with reference to the required and desirable qualifications, skills and experience set out above, as well as current contact information, and two contactable referees on previous assignments 
  2. A detailed CV
  3. A short writing sample (published or unpublished article or research paper)
  4. A technical proposal including a brief research plan setting out the main research questions and methodology to be adopted.
  5. A financial proposal indicating the consultant’s proposed fee for the assignment.

Only short-listed applicants will be contacted.

Applications close on 15 August 2021. 


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