Senior Operations Officer at World Bank – Jobs in Ghana
Do you want to build a career that is truly worthwhile? Working at the World Bank Group provides a unique opportunity for you to help our clients solve their greatest development challenges. The World Bank Group is one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries; a unique global partnership of five institutions dedicated to ending extreme poverty, increasing shared prosperity and promoting sustainable development. With 189 member countries and more than 120 offices worldwide, we work with public and private sector partners, investing in groundbreaking projects and using data, research, and technology to develop solutions to the most urgent global challenges. For more information, visit www.worldbank.org.
The Africa Region, which is comprised of approximately 700 staff members, mostly based in about 44 field offices, is committed to helping Africa realize its considerable development potential, with a focus on employment generation. The core values guiding our work are passion for our mission of sustainable poverty reduction with keen attention to quality and transformative impact, putting the needs of the client at the center of all our activities, trust and respect as a common currency, intellectual rigor and curiosity, honesty and integrity, teamwork, openness to learning and the courage to admit we do not always have the answer.
Sub-Saharan Africa has a population of around 800 million people in 48 countries and is a vibrant and changing environment for development work. The last two decades of democratic elections and, in some countries multiparty systems has created a greater openness to pro-poor reforms. A vibrant civil society has become increasingly vocal on policy issues, and African citizens are more and more holding politicians accountable for their actions (although there are variations across countries). Regional institutions, such as AU NEPAD are applying peer pressure on national leaders to improve their performance.
Until the onset of the global financial and economic crisis, Africa had been experiencing a period of sustained and widespread growth. In addition to the oil exporters, some 22 non-oil-exporting countries were experiencing better-than-four-percent growth for a decade and two third of the population lived in countries that had grown by between 5.9 and 8.1 percent per year. The sources of this growth were three-fold: (i) external resources aid, debt relief, private capital flows and remittances were all increasing; (ii) strong commodity prices and buoyant global economy; and (iii) improved macroeconomic policies, reflected for instance in the fact that the median inflation rate in the mind-2000s was about half that in the mid-1990s.
While the overall business climate in Africa is the weakest in the world, several countries including some fragile states have made great strides in improving g their environment for business. What is emerging as a result is a growing region, with setbacks from time to time, that is increasingly seen as a destination for investment as much as for aid; and one where leaders are increasingly willing to address problems of poor governance that harms development effectiveness.
The Africa Region seeks to seize this unprecedented opportunity to better support our clients in realizing the ambition of eradicating extreme poverty and boosting prosperity.
For the past few years Ghana has sustained a good record of economic growth with reduced inflation. In 2017 and 2018 growth was 8.1% and 6.3% respectively, driven by industry (mostly oil) and agriculture. Recent data for 2019 indicates the real GDP growth for the whole of 2019 will slow to 6.1%, below initial projections of 7.5%. As a result of tighter monetary policy stance and a moratorium on central bank financing of the fiscal deficit, Ghana’s inflation fell to single-digits in 2018, after staying in double digits for the previous five years. This, together with lower non-food inflation mainly from low services cost in the health, education, and communications sectors helped to keep inflation in check at 7.9% in December 2019. Headline fiscal deficit was 4.7% of GDP in 2019, while the overall fiscal deficit, including financial and energy sector costs, was 7% of GDP. The financial sector reforms have begun paying off, as monetary indicators continued to stabilize, with healthy credit growth to the private sector in 2019 (18.3% in 2019 up from 10.6% in December 2018), and a decline in Non-Performing Loans to 13.9% in December 2019 from 18.2% in December 2018.
Ghana’s external position remained strong reflecting strong earnings from oil. The current account deficit estimated at 3.1% of GDP in 2019, was the same as 2018. Improved export earnings for gold and oil (due to higher volumes and favorable price) resulted in a trade surplus equivalent to 3.8% of GDP, higher than the 2.8% recorded in 2018. The current account deficit was financed by both higher foreign direct investment (FDI) and the improved portfolio inflows. At the end of 2019, the net international reserves were US$3.9 billion (1.9 months of imports); while gross international reserves totaled US$ 5.1 billion (2.4 months of imports). The Ghanaian cedi came under considerable pressure in the first quarter of 2019 but following the US$3 billion Eurobonds issuance, the cedi strengthened somewhat, but returned to a gradual depreciation path again in the second half of 2019. Cumulatively, the cedi depreciated by 16.6% against the US dollar in December 2019.
Economic growth is projected to remain robust at 5.8% in 2020, driven by strong growth in both the oil and non-oil sectors. Non-oil growth will be spurred by good agriculture and agribusiness performance, a rebound in the post-reform financial sector, and the continued expansion of the information and communications sector. But growth is expected to moderate in 2021 and 2022 with the temporary slowdown of oil production due to maintenance-related stoppages at various oil fields. Inflation is expected to remain in single digits in 2020, and within the Bank of Ghana target range of 6%-10% over the medium term. The overall fiscal deficit (including costs of the financial and energy sectors) is expected to narrow and the headline fiscal deficit is expected to decline starting in 2021 as the primary balance shifts to a surplus in 2021 and for the medium-term.
Ghana’s economic outlook is positive, reflecting recent macroeconomic reforms, but challenges remain. First, there is a risk of fiscal slippage in the lead up to the 2020 election and the 2018 fiscal responsibility law’s 5% deficit rule is key in managing this risk. Second, fiscal performance is burdened by a growing debt service bill as deficit financing continues to shift from concessional to non-concessional borrowing, even with additional liabilities from the financial and energy sectors. Third, adverse weather and climatic shocks could precipitate lower agricultural output and consequently lower growth, exports and fiscal revenues.
The AFCW1 Country Management Unit (CMU) covers Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The CMU portfolio includes 52 projects amounting to a total commitment of $3.1 billion in IDA resources. In addition, there are 5 Regional projects with a total commitment of $671.4m. The CMU’s advisory service and analytics (ASA) portfolio consists of close to 60 activities. Portfolio performance has been positive with a disbursement ratio slightly above and a commitment at risks ratio below the Region’s average.
The Country Director is based in the World Bank Office in Accra and works with a core country team working out of Headquarters, Country Offices in Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Currently, there is a total of approximately 50 staff based in Accra working for both the Country Management Unit and the various Global Practices.
Roles & Responsibility: –
The Snr Operations Officer (SOO) position is based in Ghana, Accra with primary responsibility for supporting the Country Director (CD), Operations Manager (OM) and DC-based Sr. Operations Officer (DC SOO) with respect to the performance of the existing portfolio, including trust funds and analytical program (ASA), tracking the pipeline delivery, and ensuring the program’s strategic alignment with the CPF. The SOO supports the CD, OM and DC SOO to conduct country-specific monitoring and reporting on the existing lending, TF portfolio and ASA program, and to identify and resolve country-specific implementation issues.
The SOO maintains up-to-date information on portfolio performance (IDA and trust funds, and ASA program) for Ghana in close collaboration with the OM and DC SOO. The SOO is a member of the CMU Management Team that includes senior staff, which meets frequently to share information and resolve all relevant operational and administrative issues in the country office.
Specific duties include:
S/he will be responsible for performing activities in the following areas:
- Support the Ghana team in the preparation, appraisal and negotiation of national and regional projects.
- Assist Task Team Leaders sustain effective relationships with high-level government officials, line ministries, project implementation units as well as international development partners.
- Supports the CD, OM and DC SOO in ensuring the quality of portfolio performance management through project implementation, monitoring and assistance.
- Supports the OM in monitoring the Ghana lending, knowledge and convening activities; flags implementation problems for attention by clients and Bank management; supports OM with data and documents needed for effective portfolio monitoring and risk management meetings at the Regional level and takes lead in resolving systemic portfolio issues.
- Actively support the country and project teams by playing the key role in coordinating the implementation of the World Bank program in the Country and supporting the CD and OM in the Bank dialogue with the development partners and government counterparts in that respect.
- Advising operational teams on the current scope of policies applicable to Bank operations
- Promote knowledge learning between teams engaged through capturing key operational challenges, solutions and examples.
- Leads the preparation of the Country briefing documents and internal and external correspondence for Bank management, development partners, and external audiences.
- Supports the CD, OM and DC SOO in monitoring the allocation and utilization of national IDA.
- Leads and coordinates the quality control of the preparation of a Monthly Watch List. The report monitors lending, non-lending activities, TF, and other key portfolio performance indicators. The report is regularly shared with the Country Team and may be shared with the government.
- Support the implementation Support Team (comprising of FM, Procurement and safeguards specialists) by organizing its regular meetings with project TTLs and program/sector leaders to discuss and find solutions to the ongoing concerns and to anticipate potential future problems/bottlenecks. Follow-up with government on recommendations in close consultation with the CD, OM, and Program/Sector Leaders. Follow up on the Portfolio Action Plan as formulated in the IST or the Country Portfolio Performance Review (CPPR), with special focus on portfolio-wide actions in the areas of FM, procurement, safeguards, and M&E. Prepare the TTLs periodic meetings.
- Review, and draft comments for the CD/OM on operational documents such as the Project Concept Notes (PCNs), Project Appraisal Documents (PADs), Implementation Status and Results Reports (ISRs) and Implementation Completion Report (ICR);
- Provides inputs to or prepares diverse operational products/outputs (e.g. country briefings, background reports, case studies, portfolio performance reviews, etc.). Provide continuous case-by-case support to teams and the Implementation Support Team. Interact directly with the Program Leaders/Sector on daily work program issues and provides operational support for problem or risky operations, reviews implementation readiness of projects under preparation, including advice on project design, results-M&E, risk management; reviewing operational packages; advising the OM on management letters, extensions, cancellations and restructuring. To the extent possible, participate in operational missions and meetings and assist teams in resolution of difficult issues. Review, comment on, and clear for the OM/CD all operational out-going correspondence.
- Maintain daily contact and relationship with government counterparts; ensure that the country team follows the government’s internal procedures and processes for World Bank programs; and assist the country team in resolving difficult operational issues. Leads the preparations for the regular Implementation Support team meetings in close cooperation with Country Teams and Governments.
- Supports the OM in donor coordination by developing and maintaining contacts with key stakeholders and development partners. Develops and maintains close working relations with the Washington-based Country Anchor Unit, the CMU staff in Monrovia and Freetown, GP colleagues, operational services and quality staff, and regional management.
- Provide support in the Country Strategy Implementation program. Support the CD, OM and DC SOO in implementation of the Country Partnership Strategy and help in preparing CPS Progress Report and Completion Report, particularly regarding portfolio implementation.
This job is for someone who is very strong in operational work, likes new challenges, has strong inter-personal skills, and thrives in a rapidly changing environment.
- Masters’ degree in international relations, international development, management or similar discipline with a minimum 8 years’ relevant experience; a post graduate qualification in finance with a supplementary Business Administration will be an added advantage.
- Ability to deal sensitively in multi-cultural environments and build effective working relations with clients and colleagues.
- Effective verbal and written communications skills.
- Ability to function effectively in multi-disciplinary teams within a matrix environment.
- Good understanding of Bank policies, procedures and system.
- Recognized by peers and/or managers for ability to identify and pro-actively solve operational issues and problems.
- Demonstrates knowledge and understanding of the CMU’s annual reporting, budgeting, and business planning.
- Ability to coordinate mechanisms to ensure efficient and effective procedures for routine workflow in the County office.
- Identifies the needed resources to accomplish results involving multiple stakeholders and finds solutions to obstacles affecting key deliverables.
- Shows leadership in ensuring the team stays organized and focused, and actively seeks and considers diverse ideas and approaches.
- Shares best practice, trends, knowledge and lessons learned across units and with clients and partners, articulating ideas verbally and in writing in a clear and compelling way across audiences of varied levels.