September 15th 2017. Last week, ASE organized a professional development seminar entitled “International Relations and Migration: What Development for Africa?” The seminar was led by Jean-Francis R. Zinsou, former ambassador and representative of Benin to the United Nations and former chair of the Global Coordination Bureau of Least Developed Countries.

Mr. Zinsou began the presentation by contextualizing the phenomenon of migration in Africa, the driving factors of migration, and the difference between voluntary and forced migration. He also highlighted the implications of migration on countries of destination, transit, and origin; namely, he highlighted the importance of the migrant remittances and their potential to foster economic development in origin countries. 

Subsequently, Mr. Zinsou discussed his involvement in setting up a Remittances Observatory in Benin as an extension of the International Organization for Migration. He also explained his involvement with the government of Benin in the creation of new policies to enhance the mobility of Africans across the region and continent, and in efforts with financial institutions to channel remittances into concrete development projects. To conclude, the seminar was followed by a Q&A session where students posed a variety of questions about migration and development in Benin and across the continent.    

Ibilola is a Nigerian-American, born in Lagos and raised in Sacramento, CA. This past May, she graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, with a major in Culture & Politics and a minor in African Studies.

At ASE, there's a lot she hopes to accomplish this year. Primarily, to fully launch the Institute of Financial Management as a competitive consulting arm of the university. She also hopes to expand her research capabilities in the economic, social, and political realms, and help the university in whatever capacity needed. Ultimately, she just hopes to grow professionally and personally.”

Ibilola accepted the fellowship with ASE for several reasons. She claims, “I am extremely interested in Professor Wantchekon's vision of a world-renowned economic institution on the continent - I'm very passionate about the ‘For Us By Us’ ideology. I also wanted to return to West Africa after spending time in Togo and Nigeria.”

So far, Ibilola has felt that ASE is truly a great institution that's passionate about helping their students and the community around them. She commented, “Everyone - from faculty to the students -has been extremely welcoming and I'm excited to work on various upcoming projects, including business plans and an impact-evaluation research project. Benin is also extremely beautiful. I've visited family in Porto-Novo and I'm excited to see more of the country, especially up north.”

Originally from Seattle, Sarah graduated from Middlebury College in 2014 with a degree in history and minors in Secondary Education and French. After earning her teaching certificate for social studies, she has worked in the United States, Germany, and Japan.

Sarah’s mission at ASE is to support the Pre-Doctoral Fellows as they prepare for the GRE and TOEFL, and to teach first year English. Outside of the classroom, she will work with the Academic Affairs Department and the Communications Team. She is also eager to support ongoing education-related research projects.

When asked why she accepted the fellowship with ASE, Sarah claimed: “ASE has the energy and dynamism of a start-up, but the outcomes and international recognition of a well-established institution. I was immediately attracted by the chance to learn from—and support—the school’s continued growth. I’m excited to work with students from all over the continent and to hear their perspectives. Beyond that, I hope to learn more about West African history, brush up my French skills, and maybe even learn a little Fon.”

So far, she has also enjoyed her time in Benin: “My very first meal in Benin was of pounded yams, which was a great introduction to the local foods. I’ve really enjoyed exploring Calavi and Cotonou, and am finally getting used to the motorcycle taxis. The highlight has been meeting the people of ASE, especially the members of the volleyball team. I look forward to the year ahead!”

Last Friday, September 8 2017, the African School of Economics held the annual Opening Ceremony to welcome this year's cohort of new students.

On stage, the Dean Claude Domfang was joined by Clementina Alamou, the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Lewis Atta, the Student Representative, and Adonis-Aubin Hounsokoun, the Accountant for Student Finances. ASE staff welcomed the new cohort of around thirty students starting their Master's degrees. This year, students come from a variety of countries including Benin, Liberia, Cameroon and Burundi. Following a discussion about logistics and scheduling of the academic year - students were impatient to ask questions and seemed excited to begin their year at ASE.  

 

2017 09 13 Messan Agbaglah 2

September 8, 2017. Transcript from interview with Dr. Messan Agbaglah.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

My name is Messan Agbaglah. I am Canadian but originally from Togo.  I received my Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Montreal in 2013.  After my schooling in Canada, I worked for three years, from 2012 to 2015,  at the University of Sherbrooke as a professor of Economics.  Subsequently, I was offered a post at the federal government in Canada. From 2015 to 2017, I successively held positions of Researcher, Strategic Planner, and Research Advisor in the Labour Program for the Department of Employment and Social Development.  

My research interests are focused on Theoretical Microeconomics and how it affects financial institutions in developing areas such as through informal insurance and mobile money.

Last August 2016, you presented a paper during a seminar at ASE on informal insurance. Could you tell us more about this paper and presentation? 

It was a great experience. You know, I have been interested in ASE since its creation. In August 2016, I was in Togo for vacation and heard ASE’s President, Professor Wantchekon, was in Benin at the same time. I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to meet, and we had a very productive discussion. You know, Professor Leonard is a very inspiring and motivating person.  I could not refuse his invitation to present one of my papers at the Summer Seminar at ASE. The audience was very receptive and it ended up being a key factor behind my decision to accept a teaching position at ASE.

What is your main challenge and motivation for coming to ASE?

Teaching is a big challenge per se. Each student is unique; each cohort is different, especially in a university like ASE where students originate from various countries and backgrounds. My main motivation resides in the fact that being at ASE, I could contribute to the global initiative of creating a North American standard of education in Africa. ASE is a pioneer in that regard when it comes to economics. That being said, I do not view things as challenges or motivations.  Instead, this is a lifetime opportunity for me. A chance to share my knowledge and experience with my fellow Africans.  I recognize that the opportunity cost for choosing ASE was very high.  It is not easy to choose between Africa which is my mother and Canada I see as my wife (he smiles)Nevertheless, I received a call from my mother and here I am.  My consolation is that I will always have part of Canada within me. Is this not a wonderful experience?

Any expectations from our students? 

In May 2017, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks with our students (they are also mine now). I was quite surprised by their motivation, their solid backgrounds, and more importantly their thirst for knowledge. It is a perfect match for me.

Can you give us a few words on the interaction between you and your audience the last time you were here?

I was very surprised to be granted a standing ovation at the end of my presentation. I am used to it in Canada, but at ASE it was a quite different feeling….like a mission accomplished! I count on these students to make the adventure great!