2018 01 15 Gaïus 2

Gaius A. is a young Beninese graduate with a Master's degree in Mathematics, Economics and Statistics from the African School of Economics (ASE); graduated in December 2017. He shares his experience with the online community through this interview.

ASE Communications: Hello Gaius!

Gaius Ahamide: Hello!

ASE Communications: You have just graduated from the African School of Economics. Before joining this school, what did you study?

Gaius Ahamide: I obtained a degree in planning at the National School of Applied Economics (ENEAM) in Benin, and then I pursued various professional internships in business. I also took training on statistics software.

ASE Communications: On arrival to ASE, which sector did you find most interesting? And what was your academic journey like?

Gaius Ahamide: At ASE, I pursued a Master's degree in Mathematics, Economics and Statistics (MMES), from which I graduated in December 2017. I had the opportunities to participate in surveys and data collection, including the emergency care management survey, the bureaucrat motivation survey, and the youth employment survey. I have also worked as a research assistant on projects such as the New Development Planning (NDP) project in collaboration with the universities of Ottawa and Manchester, and the secondary school girls’ education project with the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation project (3ie). Lastly, I also had the chance to work as a teaching assistant for Professor David Gbaguidi in Macroeconomics.

ASE Communications: Your time at ASE has certainly allowed you to acquire skills and experiences, tell us about them.

Gaius Ahamide: My time at ASE allowed me to reconnect with learning method I lost a few years ago. I relearned how to work hard, fast and intensively. This permitted me to gain strong foundational skills in micro, macro and development economics. The program at ASE is inspired by teaching techniques at international universities. All of these aspects helped me write my Master’s thesis, which I presented at ASE’s annual Seminar in Economic Research in December 2017. Other notable experiences for me at ASE included the opportunity to participate in research project conception and design through appropriate techniques to create serious and rigorous work.

ASE Communications: What are your projects now?

Gaius Ahamide: I plan to apply to a PhD program in a North American university, through the pre-doctoral program at ASE. The Pre-doctoral program trains us by providing us with knowledge and a deeper understanding of the various doctoral programs offered by top universities.

ASE Communications: It's the end of the interview, do you have anything you would like to add?

Gaius Ahamide: I think the programs at ASE are superb! As far as the students’ working conditions are concerned, it is not bad even though there is still work to be done. The "work study" is an innovative and very interesting program and the "cleaning" program for students is very advantageous, as it helps them develop team spirit among other things.



On December 16, 2017, the African School of Economics held its second annual Graduation and Commencement Ceremony. This year’s cohort of graduate students came from Benin, Togo, Nigeria, and Cameroon among others. Pierre Nguimkeu, Professor at Georgia State University, was one of many who congratulated ASE’s graduates, especially those whom presented at SIER 2017. He also expressed his great joy to sponsor the ceremony.  

ASE’s president Léonard Wantchekon also congratulated the graduating class on their accomplishments and wished them the best while also thanking parents for their support. He also spoke of ASE’s progress and success made during the past three years, including the placement of ASE graduates in international institutions such as the World Bank and Innovation for Poverty Action. Additionally, ASE placed five pre-doctoral students in top US universities including Princeton University and New York University. Professor Wantchékon also mentioned that two students from the United States and Mexico were recently admitted to ASE and were excited to begin their studies in January 2018. Graduates also had the opportunity to congratulate their class and acknowledge the many challenges and accomplishments they faced during their time at ASE.

Class representatives Clinton Obina Ogwuike and Gaïus Ahamidé celebrated the cohort’s accomplishments in their speech before offering a symbolic gift to the founder of ASE on behalf of their class. The gift was an abstract painting made up of small circles, which grow in time to become great. Students felt this symbolic representation was a reflection of their thanks and wishes for a successful future of the African School of Economics.

SIER concluded on December 19th with two trainings on econometrics and machine learning.

Professor Pierre Nguimkeu of Georgia State University opened the day with the presentation “A Structural Econometric Analysis of the Informal Sector Heterogeneity.” The training was comprehensive and included theoretical explanations, analysis of the informal sector, model descriptions, and test specification, providing students with greater knowledge on various econometric approaches.  

Professor Songbian Zime of ASE gave the final lecture on the contemporary subject of Machine Learning. First defining the various elements of the machine learning field, Zime presented his ongoing research and thesis on the subject.


The day concluded with final remarks from Professor Leonard Wantchekon about the vision and aspirations for ASE students and the institution at large. Wantchekon closed the conference with a final thank you to the lecturers, the organizing committee, the GIMPA delegation, students, and participants.

On December 18, 2017, SIER held its first day of trainings for ASE students. Incorporating concepts of Institutions and Econometrics, four lectures from high-profile researcher universities provided the students with an excellent opportunity.

Opening the trainings was Professor Leonard Wantchekon, who gave a lecture entitled “Re-examining Institutions and Governance.” Providing a comprehensive presentation of the concept of institutions, he taught students about the role of institutions on governance and state capacity.

Following the first lecture, Professor Pierre Nguimkeu from Georgia State University provided a lecture on his research project “Randomized Evaluation of Institutions.” Focusing on the key technical elements of his article, Nguimkeu spoke specifically about the methodology of his research, teaching students how to build theoretical models for assessing the impact of institutions on numerous outcomes.

Professor Ian Heffernan of ASE and Princeton University’s lecture, “Partisan Competition, Growth, and the Franchise,” stemmed from a paper written in collaboration with Humberto Llavador and Robert J. Oxoby. Students learned about the linkages between voting rights, political competition, and political institutions at large.


The day concluded with another presentation from Professor Leonard Wantchekon, who lectured on “Electoral Competition under the Threat of Political Unrest.” Students learned about the various threats affecting electoral outcomes, using case studies as learning mechanisms. 



SIER 2017: Second Day of Panels

On December 15, 2017, ASE’s annual Summer Institute for Economic Research (SIER) held its second consecutive day of panels. Conducted in a bilingual manner to accommodate a wide variety of international researchers, the panels centered upon topics ranging from agriculture to data science.

The day opened with a special presentation from founder and President Leonard Wantchekon, who linked the objectives of SIER to future ASE developments. Highlighting upcoming initiatives, such as the 2018 Undergraduate Program and upcoming Masters programs in Agriculture and Biotechnology, Wantchekon stressed the importance of innovation and timely relevant research, both themes emphasized throughout the second day of presentations.

The first panel, entitled “Food Security,” opened with a presentation from Zara Riaz (Princeton University), who discussed an ongoing project examining links between citizen mobilization, government reactions, and food improvement outcomes. This was followed by presentations from Elise Ahovey, Director of Social Statistics at Benin’s National Institute of Statistical and Economic Analysis (INSAE), and Sylvia Ahouanse from Ministère de l’Agriculture de l’Elevage et de la Pêche (MAEP), who both discussed the issue of food accessibility, rather than food availability, in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The second panel, focused on agriculture and biotechnology, had five research presentations with experts stemming from the University of Abomey-Calavi (UAC) and the Laboratoire de Génétique Ecologique. Session attendees learned about the technicalities and economic elements of agriculture in Benin, receiving exposure to public policies regarding production, fertilization, environmental safety, and genetically modified organisms.

The final panel, centered upon technology and development, contained presentations focused on new systems created for the facilitation of financial transactions - “the crypto-currency.” Chaired by representatives from startups Etrilabs and Khulatech, presenters discussed the potential gains and ramifications of financial transaction technologies that are able to leapfrog bank intermediaries.

With over 70 participants in attendance, SIER’s second day of panels addressed emerging economic and social issues, and provided students, regional and international academics, and professors the opportunity to network and share cutting-edge research, establishing long-lasting links for collaboration in the future.