Careers: How SOAS helped Andrew become a policymaker in Tanzania

How do SOAS students put what they have learned into practice? Andrew Mahiga studied MSc in Public Policy & Management at SOAS, graduating in 2018 and is now working as a Director of Policy, Research, Advocacy & Lobbying in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. We asked him a few questions about his experience at SOAS and his career so far. 

Andrew Mahiga headshot

What has been your career path so far?

Prior to attending SOAS, I was self-employed in Tanzania as the Managing Director of my own social enterprise that focused on creating edutainment initiatives via media programs, social media campaigns and outreach programs through secondary schools and universities – to educate and empower Tanzanian youth (aged 15-30). I served as Managing Director from 2011 to 2016. Before that, I studied and worked in the U.S. from 2004 to 2010.

I was then a Project Manager for a Regional Investment Facilitation workstream under Institutions for Inclusive Development (I4ID) – an FCDO and Irish Aid-funded development program managed by Palladium Group Tanzania.

I am currently the Director of Policy, Research, Advocacy & Lobbying at the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF). TPSF is the voice of the private sector and the apex umbrella body for the private sector associations and corporate bodies in all sectors of the economy, including trade associations in Tanzania.

How was your experience studying at SOAS?

I enjoyed the diversity of SOAS – both in the subject matter of the courses that were available and also in the student body itself. There was always someone who understood your experiences and background if they had not lived it themselves. It was a true melting pot of ideas and cultures.

After completing my coursework at SOAS, I was able to work on an Anti-corruption Evidence (ACE) research project under a SOAS-led Consortium back in Tanzania. You can read more about it and download the research paper here. 

How did it help you in your current field?

It helped me tremendously in my current field as I am now directly involved in analysing and formulating policies that are impacting the private sector and business environment in Tanzania and across the region through dialoguing with Government and other business associations.

In my professional and personal life, I have focused on policy analysis for improving the business environment, access to and the quality of education, and business and entrepreneurship skills development in Tanzania.

What lessons did you take away from your time studying?

SOAS taught me to be more socially aware of what is going on in the world around me and to be an ally and champion for social justice – whether or not it directly impacted me or my life. It reminded me of how interconnected the world is and that if you want to solve global problems, first solve the problems nearest to you.

What are your hopes for your future career?

I hope to continue being a policymaker, changemaker and a stronger influencer and contributor to the development (economic and social) agenda in Tanzania.