African Voices for Science | RFP for local communications agencies



Speak Up Africa is a policy and advocacy action tank located in Dakar, Senegal. Speak Up Africa is looking for a suitably qualified and experienced company (referred to herein as ‘Agency’), to provide communications and public relations services (referred to herein as ‘Services’) for a period of 10 months, from 1 October 2020 to 31 July 2021.


About Speak Up Africa

Speak Up Africa is a strategic communications and advocacy organization dedicated to catalysing leadership, enabling policy change, and increasing awareness for sustainable development in Africa. Speak Up Africa advocates for policy change at all levels of society, engaging with decision-makers and relevant stakeholders to increase awareness, commitment and to foster action.

With a particular focus on issues such as sanitation, immunization, malaria, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and Global Health R&D, Speak Up Africa collaborates with partners from civil society, public and private sectors, and multilaterals to strengthen their impact of public health and sustainable development programs across Africa.

We hold long-standing relationships with critical policy and decision makers, champions, cultural and community influencers across the continent and globally:

  • West Africa: Headquartered in Dakar, Senegal, our solid relationships with key decision makers, uniquely qualify us to drive policy change and advocacy across the region.
  • Francophone Africa: As a truly bilingual organization, we are committed to enabling coordinated actions between French speaking African countries.
  • Pan-Africa: Working across the African continent, we catalyze systemic change for public health and sustainable development.
  • Global: We amplify and enable African voices globally to participate in developing the architecture needed to drive sustainable change.


About the ‘African Voices for Science’ initiative

Vaccination programs and wider research and development (R&D) programmes have been victim to critical public voices in recent years. While morbidity and mortality have declined, so too has the African public’s perception of the importance of some vaccine preventable diseases (measles is a notable exception). Fears of R&D programmes taking place on the continent and the long-term repercussions and side effects of clinical trials and vaccines have grown, while online misinformation has contributed to widespread mistrust of Western medical research. The current COVID-19 pandemic has seen Facebook, WhatsApp and other platforms swamped by messaging characterising potential vaccine trials on the continent as harmful.

Now, as Africa faces the threat posed by the pandemic, it is essential that the spread of misinformation is stopped. Increasing public awareness of ethical research being led and disseminated by African scientists, rather than by foreign programs, and focussing on scientific, evidence-led decision making could play a key role in rebuilding community trust and reducing resistance.

The ‘African Voices for Science’ initiative aims to provide platforms for trusted African science leaders to share reliable information with African populations on research and development and health innovations. In the current COVID-19 context, Speak Up Africa believes that such communication from credible voices will be key in shifting the existing narrative and curbing the growing anti-health science/R&D sentiment. This will help ensure African communities have credible experts they can rely on to access reliable information based on facts.

Africa counts a number of renowned scientists who would greatly benefit from open platforms to communicate about their work in healthcare research and innovation and share their views on the impact of global health crises such as COVID-19. In addition, it is essential that African communities have access to accurate public health information, particularly during this critical time of COVID-19, about vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, as well as the wider societal and economic impact of the pandemic.

Speak Up Africa will engage with 10-15 scientists over the course of one year, offering the opportunity to influence opinion and provide expert commentary and analysis addressing the following topics:

  • Research and progress on COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics
  • Equitable access, affordability, availability and acceptability of COVID-19 tools
  • The social and economic impacts of COVID-19
  • The data and the modelling guiding the response
  • The trade-offs and the risks of mitigation measures

In addition, experts will be encouraged to identify their own topic areas where they can provide a distinctive and knowledgeable point of view that shifts the narrative to focus on the positive impact of increased investment in the sector. This could be related to their own research, for example highlighting new findings or studies being undertaken that will have a positive impact on the African population, or how specific health issues or diseases, such as malaria, are being affected by COVID-19.

This exciting new project will be the first in a series of wider initiatives by Speak Up Africa to promote research and development and encourage scientific innovations as part of public discourse in Africa.


Goal and expected outcomes

Speak Up Africa’s goal for the new African Voices for Science initiative is to create a positive public discourse on research and development in Africa, specifically focussed on four key countries. The expected outcomes for the project are as follows:

  • Provide African communities with reliable information on the development of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics
  • Increase share of voice for 10-15 credible African science leaders across traditional and social media
  • Increase positive sentiment of coverage on public health research and development topics
  • Shift the current narrative around research and development to focus more on the positive potential impact of increased investment in research and development sector
  • Amplify the voices of African science leaders on COVID-19 and research and development across Africa through building a bank of quality content

Speak Up Africa has appointed a regional agency to develop the overarching communications strategy and approach for the project. It is now looking to appoint four local agencies in the four target countries – Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa – to implement the project.


Objectives and audience

Speak Up Africa is seeking the support of an Agency in Kenya/Nigeria/Senegal/South Africa to:

  • Develop and implement a local communications and media strategy for the project
  • Engage with 4-5 leading scientists as the first cohort for this prestigious and exciting new initiative and design a communications approach for each
  • Secure appropriate media opportunities for scientists, including interview opportunities and written profiling
  • Evaluate the success of the project in Kenya/Nigeria/Senegal/South Africa, aligned to the regional Monitoring and Evaluation project framework

This project will target a lay audience and African populations in general, to encourage mainstream positive conversation around science, innovations and vaccine development.


Key deliverables

The Agency will be responsible for the delivery of these expected outputs, aligned to the following timings:
Appointment and management of science leaders

  • Identify a shortlist of 10 scientists in Kenya/Nigeria/Senegal/South Africa based on established criteria and building on an initial list provided by Speak Up Africa, for consideration and selection by an expert panel. Final cohort of 4-5 trusted science leaders in each country to be selected by a panel of experts selected and managed by Speak Up Africa – October 2020
  • Engage selected scientists and develop an individual workplan outlining key activities for each, including topics for comment, quantity of media opportunities per month, process for identifying and conducting media opportunities and any other specific requirements. Workplans to be agreed with experts prior to proactive media activity commencing – October 2020
  • Mentor and manage ongoing relationships and ensure continuous engagement with scientists over the period of the project, adapting workplans as required – November 2020 – June 2021
  • Provide technical assistance, such as media training, op-ed writing support, skills building and other assistance to scientists where required – November 2020 – June 2021
    Communications strategy and materials
  • Develop a local communications strategy specific to Kenya/Nigeria/Senegal/South Africa (based on the overarching regional strategy) – October 2020
  • Develop communications materials to support the project, including fact sheets, biographies, press releases, media lists and media pitches – November 2020 – June 2021


Media relations

  • Facilitate media relations and outreach for the selected scientists to identify media opportunities and secure at least 3 pieces of media coverage and interviews per month for each expert in top-tier national media outlets – November 2020 – June 2021
  • Encourage production of written content authored by scientists including op-eds, blogs and commentary, and secure publication in key media titles – November 2020 – June 2021
  • Proactively suggest innovative ways to elevate scientists’ voices throughout the project using online and traditional media tools – November 2020 – June 2021
  • Amplify messaging to pan-African audiences by sharing content online and through social media channels – November 2020 – June 2021


Project management, reporting and evaluation

  • Develop local monitoring and evaluation framework, including benchmarks for each indicator (based on regional project M&E framework currently in development) – October 2020
    • Example benchmarks will be refined with appointed Agency depending on final agreed regional framework:

1. 20% increase in share of voice for each scientist (social and earned media)
2. 20% decrease in percent of misinformation in each country around COVID-19

  • Conduct monthly reporting and progress against agreed benchmarks in a dashboard report to be shared each month with Speak Up Africa – November 2020 – June 2021
  • Attend monthly calls with Speak Up Africa and regional communications agency to report on progress and present plans for the coming month – November 2020 – June 2021
  • Compile full project evaluation report including lessons learned to enable impact assessment, to be incorporated into overall project evaluation report – June/July 2021



A total budget of USD $50,000 per country is available for the implementation of this project Kenya/Nigeria/Senegal/South Africa over the contract period (Oct 2020-July 2021). This budget is inclusive of all fees and costs relating to the project.


Proposal requirements

Speak Up Africa requests a proposal (maximum 6 pages) from the prospective Agency which includes the following detail:

  • Technical proposal, outlining the Agency’s proposed approach to the project to achieve the objectives outlined above
  • Details of any monitoring and evaluation tools the Agency would use to deliver the project
  • Financial proposal outlining how the Agency will deliver the project to the available budget, including number of hours and any costs
  • Profiles and summary of experience of team members who will be working on the project
  • 2 x examples of work of a similar nature you have previously carried out and the outcomes of that work
  • Primary contact name and contact details

Any questions can be sent to by Monday 5 October 2020.

All proposals should be sent to by Friday 9 October 2020 with the subject line: African Voices for Science communications support.



The expected timeframe for the work is 1 October 2020 – 31 July 2021.


Key activity Timing
Deadline for Agency clarification questions 13 October 2020
Deadline for Agency proposals 16 October 2020
Agency proposal review period 19-23 October 2020
Agency appointed in Kenya/Nigeria/Senegal/South Africa1  27 October 2020
Speak Up Africa conducts pre-assessment of science leaders October-November 2020
Speak Up Africa and Agency appoint science leaders and develop detailed workplans By 20 November 2020
Agencies develop local communications strategies By end of November 2020
Ongoing development of content authored by scientists placed in top-tier media titles and additional interview opportunities secured by Agency November 2020 – June 2021
Final project evaluation and reporting July 2021


Required criteria

The Agency should demonstrate the following:

  • Excellent written and spoken English and French
  • Proven track record in successfully delivering communications/PR campaigns and media engagement projects for a leading national entity
  • Proven track record producing high-impact results against objectives at a national level – experience in the health and/or research and development fields will be considered
  • Proven track record in working with national media and securing coverage
  • Ability to think creatively with respect to developing new and compelling content
  • Experience working with external stakeholders and expert spokespeople


Selection criteria

Responses will be evaluated by Speak Up Africa using the following criteria:

  • Ability to deliver on all required deliverables and outputs
  • The quality and clarity of the proposal
  • Evidence of proven success of similar projects
  • Responsiveness and flexibility
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Value for money

Interested in this opportunity ?

Apply online :

  • Ce champ n’est utilisé qu’à des fins de validation et devrait rester inchangé.

Apply online :

  • Ce champ n’est utilisé qu’à des fins de validation et devrait rester inchangé.