The World Bank Africa Fellowship Program – We hear from Fatoumata Cisse

Fatoumata Cisse Fatoumata Cisse

Fatoumata Cisse was a World Bank Africa Fellow in 2023. We caught up with her to check in on the fellowship experience.

Get more information on the program and application process for 2025!

What motivated you to apply for the World Bank Africa Fellowship Program? How did the program align with your career aspirations and interests?

I applied to the program because I wanted to bring my experience to an international scale. Coming from both the private and academic sectors, it was important for me to see how things work on the donor side, as well as to have an operational vision of the application of my research work. Moreover, I knew that by joining the program I would have greater visibility over my possible career choices within the World Bank. I would also have more opportunities to work on different operational or research projects in developing countries, which is perfectly in line with my current aspirations. 

Can you share your experience during the selection process? What were the key factors that you believe contributed to your selection as a fellow?

After being selected by the program managers, the process moved very quickly. My profile attracted the attention of the IFC's infrastructure project impact assessment unit. I was contacted by one of the economists and we discussed the links between the unit's work and my research on impact evaluation. In addition, my experience in the private sector (financing entrepreneurs in Africa) also contributed to the selection of my candidacy. We quickly hit it off and I accepted their proposal, which I haven't regretted! 

As a fellow, what were the primary responsibilities and tasks assigned to you during your six-month assignment? Give us two examples of projects you worked on that contributed to the World Bank's mission of poverty elimination and shared prosperity.

I have mainly worked on the ex-ante impact assessment of infrastructure projects within the IFC, the IFC’s Anticipated Impact Measuring and Monitoring (AIMM) Framework. As an AIMM economist, our role is to identify and measure the outcomes of projects on stakeholders (beneficiaries, employees, suppliers/distributors), the environment, and market contribution. This has enabled me to work closely with the investment teams and to measure the impact of these large-scale projects on populations, especially the most vulnerable. In particular, I focused on the national electrification program in Côte d'Ivoire, a water access project in Tanzania, and a solar electrification project in Botswana. My task team leader really got me involved in all phases of project validation and gave me the opportunity to lead on the Botswana project. This autonomy was also given to me in the context of analytical work in collaboration with operational teams, on various desalination projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

What significant opportunities have arisen as a result of your participation in the program? Are there any notable achievements or connections that you attribute to this experience?

The program triggered several opportunities for me to meet staff in the World Bank who are keen to meet young African talent (despite their level of seniority), so contacting them and meeting them provides precise indications of current and future projects in the departments, upcoming staff rotations, and career directions within the World Bank. It allowed me to expand my network and learn more about the institution from the inside.   

For instance, I got my current job by contacting a program manager in the World Bank's impact assessment department (DIME). We talked about my missions within the fellowship program, my research work, and my career aspirations within the World Bank, in particular my desire for field experience. The manager kept my CV and one of my research papers. A few months later, a position in my field opened up in Rwanda and the project managers contacted me to take part in the recruitment process. And now I am writing this text as I work from Kigali! 

For prospective candidates, what advice would you offer them to succeed during their fellowship? What valuable lessons did you learn during your time as a fellow?

Six months is a very short time, so make the most of what the program has to offer. Despite the workload, which can be intense at times, try to enjoy yourself and learn as much as possible from your colleagues' assignments and experiences.   

Interact with colleagues from different departments to broaden your perspectives and take advantage of the program to build relationships with people outside the World Bank too (in DC or country offices), such as think-tanks, NGOs, governments, companies, and universities. Look out for opportunities through conferences, workshops, and after-work events. 


Do YOU want to gain experience and use your talent to help transform Africa like Fatoumata?

Apply to be a World Bank Fellow and gain hands-on experience in development.
To be considered you must be a Ph.D. candidate or recent graduate (within three years of Ph.D. completion) from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Women candidates are encouraged to apply.

See full eligibility criteria and how to apply. 
Apply by August 25, 2023.

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