More than a decade after graduating from the African School of Economics, Damase Sossou talks about ASE. He explains the positive experiences he had as a student at this Pan-African university.

The Communications team: Our first point of interest: what was your course of study at the ASE?

Damase Sossou: I was part of IERPE’s first cohort, the oldest of the ASE's institutes. I was one of the first students to graduate with a Master's degree in Public Economy and Applied Statistics (MEPSA) in 2006. Prior to that, I received my education in Statistical Works Engineering at ENEAM (National School of Applied Economics and Management, formerly INE, National Economics Institute).

The Communications team: What was your first job after ASE?

Damase Sossou: I had already been a research assistant when I was still an ASE student. I worked on the school's political economy and local governance research projects. Afterwards, even before graduating from the ASE I was recruited by the civil service in 2008, where I still work.

The Communications team: Did the ASE contribute to this success?

Damase Sossou: Honestly, I successfully passed the civil service recruitment test thanks to the background I got from studying at INE. But I stood out among the rest at work thanks to my education at ASE. The technical capabilities I acquired at ASE enabled me to have good instincts when dealing with certain cases, and I had an especially interesting career path thanks to my particular way of analyzing issues.

The Communications team: Okay, what did the ASE really bring you professionally that makes you stand out among your colleagues?

Damase Sossou: It brought me broadmindedness regarding all sociology and governance-related issues, which often gives my analyses multiple points of view. And these are things an individual who has not received such an education does not necessarily have. I also remember that the ASE helped me get an internship at the University of Cape Town (South Africa) in 2007. It was an enriching experience.

The Communications team: What is your relationship with ASE today?

Damase Sossou: Currently, I work with ASE's CEIPP program as an instructor. I am also an associate researcher. For example, as part of the last communal elections, I worked on a research project with professor Wantchekon, the founder of the ASE, on elections issues. I am also working with the professor and some of his colleagues based at the Toulouse School of Economics and in Spain, on a research project targeting the improvement of the performance of workers in their duties at commune level.

The Communications team: We are almost at the end of this interview, what advice do you have for our readers?

Damase Sossou: I want to specify that all those who studied at ASE stand out everywhere they go; whether Beninese or foreign nationals, they work in the best institutions. Anyone who really wants to impact the world with strategic thinking on development issues must choose ASE. As for those who only need a small training for a short term job, I advise they go for other schools. (Laughter)  

The Communications team: Thank you.

A majority of the African School of Economics' graduates, precisely those of the Institute of Empirical Research in Political Economy (IERPE), have become top executives in the world. They have unlimited access to the labor market. Gabriel Lawin is one of them.

Upon graduating from IERPE with a Master’s degree in Public Economy and Applied Statistics (MEPSA in French), Gabriel Lawin started his career, working with the World Bank, at the Niger office. In Niger, he was the Project Coordinator on a school subsidy impact evaluation, a position that he held from 2008 to 2009. The year thereafter, he was put in charge of Surveys and Statistics at the Ministry of Economy and Finance's Forecast and Economic climate Directorate in Benin. Then in 2011, the international NGO Innovations for Poverty Action made him Project Coordinator in Bamako, Mali. Gabriel Lawin held the same position in Tamale, Ghana. The World Bank hired this IERPE/ASE alumnus again in 2012, as a Consultant for an early childhood development project. Gabriel was also a consultant in 2013 for Oxfam GB in Mali. Then in 2015, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) based in Brighton, England, made Gabriel, a Project Coordinator in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Again, the World Bank called upon Gabriel Lawin as a Consultant, Senior Economist, in order to produce a general report on employment diagnosis in Côte d'Ivoire. Now, Mr. Lawin is a home based Consultant with assignments in Monrovia (Liberia) for the World Bank. Additionally, he works as an associated researcher on the impact evaluation of financial services and deployment of agricultural innovations project in Burkina Faso. The project is implemented by Developpement International Desjardins (DID), in partnership with the Reseau des Caisses Populaires du Burkina (RCPB), the Burkina-Faso Environment and Agricultural Research Institute (INERA in French) and Laval University, with funding from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Canada.

Gabriel Lawin is currently preparing his thesis in agro-economy at Laval University in Canada. He is also the Co-founder and Finance Manager of the African Institute of Integrated Development (IADI-Africa), a limited liability company, specializing in consultative support in the fields of agronomy, education, economy and finance. He is working in Canada.

What does Gabriel Lawin have to say about his experience with the IERPE?

"The training is excellent. The training program was at the leading edge of knowledge in the field. This enabled us enter the labour market with a good mastery of the latest scientific tools and methods. We studied statistical methods that were not yet taught in African statistics schools. I owe my first job with the World Bank, in Niger, in 2008 to this fact. The teacher-student relationship was convivial. We benefitted from Professor Leonard Wantchekon’s advice. I also appreciated the ASE's efforts to facilitate its students' entry into the professional world, which is not common in Africa.”

 

Interviews with former graduates of the African School of Economics have been enlightening about the range of talents they bring into the professional world. The following profile of Marius Chabi, graduate of IERPE (the precursor to ASE), proves that studying at the ASE opens unlimited opportunities.

Marius Chabi is a Beninese national. He holds a Masters degree in Public Economy and Applied Statistics (MEPSA in French) obtained at the IERPE, one of the 3 Institutes under the African School of Economics (ASE). After graduating from the IERPE in September 2013, he first worked as the Data Manager at the Centre de Recherche et d'Appui-Conseils pour le Développement (CRAD) in Benin. Despite his young age, Marius landed this job 6 months prior to completing his training - an achievement he attributes to being trained at a prestigious institution like the ASE. He entered the international professional world in February 2014. Marius became a Data Analysis consultant with DHL Benin, on a Laval University project. He did not stop at that! He later became a Graduate Student at the Focus Scientific Research Center in Bangolore, India. In March 2015, owing to his deep commitment to Africa, Marius Chabi did not hesitate to accept an Oxfam America offer to work in Senegal. In Dakar, he was the Regional Monitoring and Evaluation Assistant for Oxfam.

Marius Chabi has been a Research Manager for Innovations for Poverty Action in Kigali, Rwanda, since March 2016. He talks about his experience with the African School of Economics: "the training is top class and on par with international standards. The faculty's caliber is impressive. And the university makes you dream big. The combination of theory and practice is just perfect!"