September 20, 2014. The process of data collection is foreign to many students, who simply take the existence of reliable social science data for granted. On Saturday, September 20, 33 ASE students were exposed to the process of a large-scale study on local bureaucratic governance in Bénin. The students gathered for an intensive training session, where they developed survey enumeration skills and familiarized themselves with the project.

The training session was led by staff from the Institute of Empirical Research in Political Economy (IERPE), including Research Associate Andre Gueguehoun. This workshop was a chance for students to apply the statistical and methodological skills they have learned in the classroom, such as randomization methods and survey design, to practical applications in the field. The instruction was designed to put students in the role of field researchers and to directly involve them in an ongoing research project.

The students’ participation is a component of ASE’s Work-Study Program. In an effort to reduce the cost of tuition, the Work-Study Program acts as the core of ASE’s financial aid system. ASE is committed to ensuring talented students with limited financial resources are included in the community of ASE. Student employment offers students the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge in a professional setting. As members of this research project, students will discover valuable field research techniques, learn to thrive in a culturally diverse team, and acquire supplementary expertise outside the focus of their studies.

During the training session, students were briefed on the theoretical objectives of the project, so that they would understand its wider social and political relevance. This briefing included a theoretical discussion of the differences between passive and active corruption. Following this discussion, Rasmané Nitiema (MBA, Class of 2016) expressed his belief that the results of this study, along with his newfound theoretical understanding, will help him and his peers fight against corruption in his home country of Burkina Faso.

After a thorough review of accompanying survey questions, the students participated in group simulation exercises to practice administering surveys in the field. This simulation was Claire Wonje’s (MMES, Class of 2016) first experience administering a survey. With her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics and Social Sciences from Université de Yaoundé 1, she believes this experience has expanded her understanding of how data is structured and the importance of careful data collection.

Later this semester, students will be asked to utilize the day’s lessons in the field. To prepare for this task, students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the study’s questionnaire. The workshop leaders encouraged all students to practice the survey simulation exercise at home. With this practice, students will be prepared for their time in the field.

Enumerator-Workshop-2

Claire Wonje (far left) questions the instructors on the structure of the large-scale empirical study.

Enumerator-Workshop-1

Rasmané Nitiema (far right) engages with the theoretical discussion of passive and active corruption.

Enumerator-Workshop-3

Andre Gueguehoun (far left), Research Associate from the Institute of Empirical Research in Political Economy (IERPE), presenting the project’s questionnaire.

September 6, 2014. Under the mid-day sun, academia met athleticism within the vicinity of campus. Sports enthusiasts, from both ASE and IREEP, clashed in a game of soccer .

When we arrived at the primary school pitch, it was a great sight to see Professor Wantchekon, warming up in one of the goal areas. As an ardent observer, rather than participant myself, I soon realized that the game of soccer is best enjoyed as a player, rather than as a spectator.

From the sidelines, the early indications of a goal fiesta faded when it seemed that the back line of both teams was better at ball control than the wasteful, blunt attacking offered by their comrades up front. Over 15 minutes pasted before Team IREEP’s goalkeeper was forced to make a meaningful save. The most potent threat came from Team IREEP’s defense, when a splitting pass from inside the centre area found a reliable centre forward. The forward’s fumbled shot fell to the advancing right fullback, who succeeded in forcing a fine save from the alert ASE goaltender.    

The momentum appeared to awaken the opposition into action and Team ASE began their own siege of the IREEP defense area. Team ASE’s persistence was rewarded with three successive “throw-ins.” At this stage, the game was heating up.

There were brief stops when the Referee, Roland Leudjou, and his assistant had difficulty agreeing over an infringement against Team IREEP towards the half hour mark. From the resulting compromise, Team IREEP took a short corner, which went agonizingly close to giving the game its first goal. The goal drought was sure to end soon.

Skillful play combined with a bit of a fortune allowed Team ASE’s skipper, Wilfried Youmbi, to go one-on-one with Team IREEP’s goalkeeper. Team ASE’s skipper shot wide; leaving his bewildered teammates, literally, scratching their heads. In a strong counter-attack, Team IREEP’s Benjamin Djiffa worked with his fellow midfielders to score the game’s first goal.

Team ASE found an opportunity to equalize in the form of a penalty kick. After an IREEP defender was judged to have fouled one of Team ASE’s forwards inside the box. Patrice Yedomiffi was called upon to take the penalty for Team ASE. His clean shot landed in the back of the net bringing the score to 1-1.

This action faded with the realization that the game was heading into extra time with neither of the sides able to deliver a knockout blow.

In the first-half of extra time, the lack of accuracy continued. To be fair, the contrary would be too much to ask from the amateur, and hastily assembled sides. On a normal day, both sides would be more recognized for their brains, as opposed to their feet. When it was clear that the deadlock would not be broken after all, both teams looked to be playing for the spot kicks.

Team ASE must not have thought that spot kicks would require much technique, as their first two kicks bore marks of lethargy, rather than of precision. After a number of accurate kicks from Team IREEP, Team ASE’s final striker shot wide. This handed Team IREEP a memorable victory and one that many ASE students would prefer to forget.

Both Benjamin and Patrice were rewarded for their goals with the honor of being named “Player of the Match” for their respective teams. After this celebration, all players and spectators were rewarded for their efforts with refreshments.

Following the successful football match, students were invited to sign-up for the ASE Sports & Recreation Committee. This student-led committee will organize activities outside of the classroom for students to socialize, compete and connect together.  Thus, many more football matches, movie nights, and country-specific cultural evenings will occur later this semester. With the leadership of the Sports & Recreation Committee, ASE students will have plenty of opportunities to develop friendships with their peers and strengthen the ASE community.  

This report was prepared by ASE Students: Gilchrist Tohouenou & Patrice Yedomiffi.

Football-Match

Spectators take in the action.

September 4, 2014 will be remembered as a celebratory first day of class  at the African School of Economics. Students, staff and faculty members gathered at ASE’s campus in Abomey-Calavi, Benin to commence the academic year. The incoming class of 80 students was full of energy, as they settled into their seats for an introduction of the new ASE staff and faculty members

The President of ASE, Professor Leonard Wantchekon, delivered an opening speech to celebrate this monumental occasion. He encouraged students to consider what they can contribute to the ASE community in the days ahead. A strong emphasis was placed on the importance of studying hard and working together to overcome the impending academic challenges. Prof. Wantchekon reassured the students that their efforts to build a strong analytical foundation will bear fruit in the years to come.

Following the President’s remarks, each faculty and staff member introduced themselves and professed their aspirations for the academic year ahead. The range of experiences and objectives varied between faculty and staff members. The students welcomed each individual with a cheerful reception.

After the jovial introductions, the students parted ways to their respective lectures. The Master in Mathematics, Economics & Statistics (MMES) students started the semester with a Mathematics lecture from Professor Maxime Agbo. At the same time, Professor David Gbaguidi delivered his first lecture of the semester in Macroeconomics to the Master in Business Administration (MBA) students.

Classes-Begin-Staff-Intro

Introducing ASE Staff and Faculty members.
From left to right: Prof. David Gbaguidi, Prof. Louise Grogan, Courtney Quinney (Research Manager), Prof. Juste Some, Prof. Agnès Zabsonré, Phil Spencer (Visiting Research Associate), Clementine Assese (Associate Dean of Academic Affairs), Prof. Maxime Agbo, Prof. Akim Adekpedjou.

Classes-Begin-Agbo

Professor Maxime Agbo (far right) delivers a Mathematics lecture to the MMES students.

 

September 15, 2014. Jessica Gregory and Jonathan Liebman, two undergraduate students from Princeton University who spent a couple of months in Cotonou as summer interns at IREEP, presented the highlights of their experience in a poster presentation last Friday September 12 at the Student Research Symposium organised by the Center for Health and Wellbeing (CHW).

The symposium, held at Princeton University, gathered students who conducted research projects and participated in 2014 summer internships sponsored by CHW’s global health and U.S. health policy programs.

Gregory and Liebman’s presentations focused on their participation in an ongoing IREEP research project that analyzes Emergency Care and Political Economy in Benin. During their stay, they assisted in the collection of data for a survey study involving patients, doctors and administrators.

gregory poster

Jessica Gregory presenting the poster

 

liebman poster

Jonathan Liebman pointing at some of the key findings

September 5, 2014. A week after the opening ceremony took place, we asked two students to share their account of the evening and the year ahead of them. These are their testimonials.

3L Ifede dance troop

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Roland Leudjou, Cameroon

MMES Class of 2016

Wonderful!!! At a time when Africa is in the process of integrating several projects for the construction of an African Economic Community (AEC), the African School of Economics (ASE) is contributing a foundation for exemplary integration in the field of education .

Beyond ASE’s vision as the largest center for research and training in economics and management in Africa, this pan-African university "... will contribute to the growth of the African economy through outstanding education, creative research, and effective solutions.” Furthermore, ASE should rely on the love that African students have for their continent. After only one month as an ASE student, I am very impressed by the cohesion that students of almost twenty nationalities and academic staff have among themselves. By sharing a similar of the potential of African human and natural resources, they are also conscious about the challenges they will face as managers and future leaders of economic development in Africa. In my opinion, the African School of Economics has laid the foundation for a pan-African student community of which I am very proud to be one of the first students.

My dearest wish for ASE is for its students and teachers to represent all 54 African nationalities, while sharing the same vigor for the economic emergence of Africa.

Phil Lopez (ASE Summer Intern), Leonard Wantchekon (ASE President), Roland

Leudjou, Hyacinthe Boko (ASE Operations Director)

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Anne Khatali, Kenya

MBA Class of 2016

The first time I saw the website of African School of Economics, the name itself caught my eyes. “The largest center for training, research in economics and management in Africa.” I thought to myself, “This is it.”

The Africa School of Economics is a great vision founded by Dr. Leonard Wantchekon in Cotonou Benin. We, the students, like referring to Dr. Wantchekon as “the Professor.”

The mission of the university is to train world class economists, management professionals, and social scientists who make a great contribution to the growth of the African economy.

Africa is the a continent with significant potential for growth because it has diverse resources, good climate, an established large market share and available clientele for its products.

I believe Africa needs more competent and professional leaders that will drive its economy into the right direction.

To become one of these great leaders in Africa you will not go wrong by choosing to study at the African School of Economics. This institution aims to provide quality tertiary education, cutting edge research, and innovative public policy. These are all stepping stones towards the realization of qualified business leaders, scientists and political leaders that will drive Africa towards becoming the best economic continent in the world.

The African School of Economics will soon offer a wide range of graduate degrees including Master in Business Administration, Executive Master in Business Administration, Master in Public Administration, Executive Master in Public Administration, and Master in Mathematics, Economics, and Statistics. ASE offers these very unique programs that are not taught anywhere else in Africa. ASE’s background in Mathematics and Economic History of Africa makes it the ideal location to study. The programs are supported by talented and competent professors from the some of the best universities from around the world (i.e. Princeton University, Yale University, and New York University).

Since the first day I arrived at ASE, I have learnt more than I ever imagined. All of the classes at ASE are compromised of many competent students. The students are the best from a variety of different countries around Africa. As a student of ASE, you cannot afford to lag behind because everyday we are taught academically and we have sessions with our rectors who teach us the importance of upholding good morals and virtue in the society.

I came as a student focused on my studies. Now, I have learnt how to be a “go-getter,” a hard-worker, and a “pace-setter.” I have also acquired a great attitude, which is very important for a great leader.

If you are a student, who is interested in becoming a great leader in your area of expertise, attending the African School of Economics is an excellent choice that you cannot go wrong with.

Anne Khatali Anne Khatali

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Wilfriedd Fotso Youmbi, Cameroon

MMES Class of 2016

Generally, there are three manifestations of culture: art, language and technology. The Grand Opening of the African School of Economics (ASE), on August 29 at the Marina Hotel Benin, allowed me to discover some of the Beninese culture.

Early in the evening, the performance of the 3L IFEDE dance troop eloquently presented the genesis and goals of ASE. The performance continued with a traditional dance accompanied by drumming and chanting in a local language. The acrobatic dancing was perfectly synchronized with each member of the 3L IFEDE group. The most striking performance of the evening involved a walking object shaped like a pyramid, referred to in the language local as a 'Zangbeto.' With the verbal encouragement of the performers, The Zangbeto moved and turned by itself. Every time the Zangbeto was turned upside-down, shockingly, there was motor or walking mechanism in sight. I must also recognize the famous IGNATIUS DONMETOCK for his excellent music throughout the performance. My fellow students, Professor WANTCHEKON, and I even performed a few dance moves with him on the stage.

In short, the Grand Opening of the African School of Economics was a success on all fronts. Especially with respect to the cultural activities, event organization, and various presentations. The Grand Opening will remain etched in my memory, as I believe the best is yet to come in my time in Benin. As ASE students, we will not only utilize ASE’s advanced training, but we also take advantage of the diversity of available cultural experiences.

Wilfriedd Fotso Youmbi speaking at ASE’s Grand OpeningWilfriedd Fotso Youmbi speaking at ASE’s Grand Opening

 

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Note: Roland's and Wilfriedd's post was originally written in French and translated into English.

Find below the original texts.

 

Roland Leudjou

Extraordinaire!!!

Au moment où l’Afrique est dans une dynamique de projets intégrateurs en vue de la mise en œuvre de son agenda pour la construction d’une Communauté Economique Africaine (CEA), l’ASE (African School of Economics) apporte sa pierre à la construction de cet édifice en jetant les bases d’une intégration dans le domaine de l’éducation au plus sommet du continent africain. Au-delà de la vision de cette prestigieuse institution universitaire qui est celle d’être « le plus grand Centre de Formation et de Recherche en Economie et en Gestion de l’Afrique », l’ASE entend également être ou est déjà une université panafricaine qui « …contribuera à la croissance de l’économie africaine à travers une éducation exceptionnelle, une recherche créative et des solutions efficaces ». Et pour cela, elle devrait compter sur l’amour de la patrie « Afrique » qu’ont les étudiants. En effet, en seulement un mois d’âge d’existence de l’ASE, j’ai été très impressionné par la symbiose entre les étudiants, le corps enseignants, le staff représentant presqu’une vingtaine de nationalités, et partageant tous la même opinion quant aux potentialités en termes de ressources humaines et naturelles que regorge l’Afrique d’une part et même les défis qu’ils devraient faire face en tant que cadres et futurs leaders pour le développement économique de l’Afrique d’autre part. J’ai eu cette impression que nous nous connaissions tous longtemps avant notre admission à l’ASE. A mon avis, l’« African School of Economics » a établi la fondation d`une communauté panafricaine d`étudiants dont je suis très heureux d’être parmi les premiers étudiants.

Mon vœu le plus cher est celui de retrouver sur ce campus au courant des années à venir des étudiants et enseignants représentant les 54 nationalités africaines et partageant tous le même envi qui est celui d`œuvrer pour l’émergence économique de l’Afrique afin qu’elle constitue une bloc capable de faire face aux unions économiques telles l’UE et les États-Unis.

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Wilfriedd Fotso Youmbi

On distingue généralement trois grandes formes de manifestations de la culture: l’art, le langage et la technique. La grande cérémonie de lancement de l’African School of Economics (l’ASE) le 29 Aout dernier au Marina Hôtel m’a permis de découvrir un peu la culture Béninoise et ceux à travers le Groupe 3L IFEDE.

Au début de la soirée nous avons d’abord assiste à un théâtre merveilleusement présente par ce groupe dont l’idée principale était la présentation de la genèse et des objectifs de l’ASE. Ensuite c’était une dance traditionnelle accompagnée de battements de tambours et tout ceci en une langue locale. Juste après, une dance acrobatique parfaitement synchronise par les membres de ce groupe. Ce qui m’a le plus marque durant cette soirée c’était cette dernière dance traditionnelle que je traiterai même d’initiatique ou les adeptes promenaient un objet en forme de pyramide, mais légèrement aplati au niveau du sommet qu’on appelle ici en langue locale ‘’ZANGBETO’’ qui bougeait et tournait sur elle-même des que ceux-ci prononçaient des paroles; mais à chaque fois que l’on renversait cet objet on ne voyait rien en dessous. Je ne pourrai finir ceci sans avoir une pensée positive envers le célèbre IGNACE DONMETOCK pour la bonne musique que j’ai écouté ce soir la a travers ces différentes entrées en scène. Mes amis étudiants, le professeur WANTCHEKON et moi avons même effectue quelques pas de dance sur la scène avec lui, c’était merveilleux.

En somme la soirée marquant le lancement officielle de l’African School of Economics a été une réussite sur tous les plans en particulier le plan culturel, tout le monde a apprécié, nous étions tous satisfait de l’organisation et des différentes présentations, elle restera vraiment gravée dans ma mémoire, et je pense que le meilleur est encore a venir car tout au long de notre séjour ici en terre Béninoise, nous ne gagnerons pas seulement la formation de pointe que nous offrira l’ASE mais nous profiterons aussi du brassage culturel qui en résultera.