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MicroMasters in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP) Scholarship Program for Government Em

For more information, please email Fanele Chester at

DEADLINE: 19 October 2021

The Digital Identification and Finance Initiative in Africa (DigiFI) aims to generate rigorous evidence on how African governments, private companies, and NGOs can leverage digital payments and identification systems to improve lives through better public service delivery, governance, and financial inclusion. To achieve this vision, DigiFI plans to support governments and other implementers to monitor and evaluate relevant reforms.

A growing number of African governments have begun pursuing the digitization of payment systems, while others are switching to biometrically authenticated national IDs which integrate access and delivery of key public services. Early research suggests there is opportunity across Africa for digital technologies to help reduce leakage in the delivery of public goods and services, to increase fiscal capacity, to reduce corruption, and to boost the welfare of citizens, particularly marginalized groups. Yet, there remains a glaring lack of rigorous, peer-reviewed evidence on the overall impacts of these digital payments and ID systems.

DigiFI Africa aims to fill this evidence gap by funding cutting edge research projects focused on the study of innovative government payment systems, and ID reforms. We expect the evidence produced by this initiative will inform governments on how best to design and implement reforms to maximize benefits to citizens and mitigate risks.

The scope of funding aims to include projects across a range of possible interventions, including but not limited to:

  • How can digital ID systems assist with targeting and efficiency in public programs? Do digital ID systems assist or hinder in reaching marginalized populations?

  • How do digital IDs affect voter participation, the fairness of elections and electoral outcomes? Does increased enfranchisement affect policy decisions?

  • How can digital ID systems and digital payments assist in building incentive systems to motivate public servants?

  • Can expanding the formal economy increase the tax base through incentives and simplified processes introduced by digital payments and digital IDs?

  • What is the impact of digital ID and digital payment systems on market-level general equilibrium effects? What are their impacts on wages and employment? Are there impacts on occupational choice or migration?

  • Can digital ID systems encourage businesses to enter the formal sector? Do these reforms reduce entry costs to entrepreneurship and enable productive investment?

  • How do different privacy measures impact take-up of digital IDs?

Recognizing the importance of prompt and reliable information on the performance and impact of reforms, the initiative will take a two-pronged approach, funding:

  • Formative research that includes pilot and high-frequency monitoring systems to assess the status and health of payments and ID programs at various stages of reforms, and

  • Rigorous randomized evaluations to assess the impact of roll-outs of promising payment and ID reforms.


The J-PAL DigiFI Africa team is excited to announce that we have scholarships to offer for this semester. The following learners are eligible to apply for these scholarships:

  • Resident African Scholars i.e. individuals who have completed their PhD and who are based at an academic institution in Africa,

  • Current PhD students based at an academic institution in Africa, OR

  • Government officials based in Africa

The scholarship covers the course fees for one course in the MicroMasters in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP) program. This means that you can earn the course certificate, engage directly with course staff, attend special lectures with professors and teaching assistants, and interact with other MicroMasters learners on our online forums to learn about exciting new research questions and job opportunities in the field of development economics and data science.

If you’re as excited as we are about this opportunity, please apply by filling out this short application form by Tuesday, October 19, 2021. Scholarships will be awarded based on eligibility, performance in the first three weeks of the course and motivations for participating. Scholarship recipients will be notified prior to the financial aid deadline. Please note that while there is no limit to the number of courses you can enrol in, this scholarship will only cover one course per learner. If you have any questions regarding the scholarship please reach out to us on Should you have any questions about the programme itself, please don’t hesitate to reach out by writing to

DigiFI aims to support local researchers to drive the research agenda in the identification and payments space by providing scholarships for MicroMaster courses, as well as other funding opportunities


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Economics and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) designed the MicroMasters® program credential in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP) to equip learners with the practical skills and theoretical knowledge to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing developing countries and the world’s poor. Through a series of five online courses and proctored exams, learners will gain a strong foundation in microeconomics, development economics, and probability and statistics, while engaging with cutting-edge research in the field.

The program is unique in its focus on designing and running randomized evaluations to assess the effectiveness of social programs and its emphasis on hands-on skills in data analysis. The methodologies for alleviating global poverty covered in these courses are taught by Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences and pioneers in the field of development economics.

To earn the DEDP MicroMasters program credential, learners complete three core courses (Microeconomics, Data Analysis for Social Scientists, and Designing and Running Randomized Evaluations) and two of three electives (The Challenges of Global Poverty, Foundations of Development Policy, and Political Economy and Economic Development) online and pass their corresponding proctored exams on edX. The five courses can be taken in any sequence, and the curriculum gives learners the flexibility to choose which electives they take. Learners who receive the MicroMasters program credential will then be eligible to apply to MIT’s new Master's program in Data, Economics, and Development Policy. If accepted, students will earn MIT credit for the MicroMasters program courses, and will be able to pursue an accelerated on-campus Master’s degree at MIT.

What you will learn

  • To identify and analyze the root causes of underdevelopment using principles of economics

  • To interpret the findings of empirical research that evaluates the effectiveness of anti-poverty strategies, policies, and interventions

  • Practical knowledge on how to design and implement rigorous randomized evaluations and other econometric methods of evaluating policies and programs

  • Tools of comparative cost-effectiveness analysis for informed policy-making

  • Fundamentals of microeconomics, development economics, probability, and statistics

  • Hands-on skills in data analysis using the R programming language

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swarali garud
Dec 20, 2021

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