December 5, 2014. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, Professor Eugene Kouassi presented the Master’s dissertation of Mr. Sitsope D.Y. Kounetsron (Research Associate - IREEP) at ASE’s weekly Academic Research Seminar. Professor Kouassi is a member of the Department of Economics at the University of Botswana. Presently, as a visiting professor at ASE, he is teaching Econometrics to the MMES first-year students.

 

 Professor Eugene Kouassi describing the details of the theoretical econometrics model

 

In the Academic Seminar, Prof. Kouassi presented the dissertation entitled, “Estimating partially linear panel data two-way random effects model.” In the last five decades, economic research has observed an increase in the availability of panel data and the development of panel data models. With this in mind, Prof. Kouassi described some of the most used frameworks and models; Prof. Kouassi considered the problem of estimating a partially linear panel data model, under a two-way error components structure. In particular, Prof. Kouassi derived a feasible semi-parametric generalized least squares (GLS) type estimator for estimating the coefficient of the linear component. He showed that it is asymptotically more efficient than a semi-parametric ordinary least squares (OLS) type estimator.

Following Prof. Kouassi’s detailed presentation, there was an in-depth discussion of the asymptotic properties of the GLS-type estimator. Mohamed Barro (MMES, Class of 2016) and Alexandre Yessoufou (MMES, Class of 2016) enquired why Prof. Kouassi used the GLS method, as opposed to the OLS method. The Professor pointed to the nature of the two-way random effect model as the reason for using the GLS method. IREEP Research Associate and author of the dissertation in question, Mr. Sitsope D.Y. Kounetsron explained at the end of the seminar that OLS was inappropriate, due to the issue of heteroskedasticity.

 

Mohamed Barro (MMES, Class of 2016) comparing the use of the GLS method versus the OLS method

 

 

December 2, 2014. The students of ASE welcomed on November 27 a distinguished guest from the global shipping industry to the ASE campus, located in Abomey – Calavi, Benin. Fanick Atchia is the Information and Technology (IT) manager at APM Terminals in Cotonou (COMAN SA), one of the divisions of the MAERSK Group. In front of a grand assembly, Mr. Aticha discussed the ups and downs of his career path, in addition to presenting the function of the APMoller-MAERSK Group, also known as the MAERSK Group. The MAERSK Group is a Danish-based company, which was founded in 1904. It is subdivided into five cores businesses: MAERSK Line, APM Terminals, MAERSK Oil, MAERSK Drilling and APM Shipping service. During the speech, Mr. Atchia focused on his division, APM Terminals.

Fanick Atchia grew up in Benin, where he conducted his high school studies with a focus on the sciences. After his high school education, Mr. Atchia completed his undergraduate studies in Computer Science at ENEAM (Ecole Nationale d'Economie Appliquée et de Management), which is located in Cotonou, Benin. All his family and supervisors advised him to continue his studies at the PhD-level, however he wanted to gain experience in the private-sector. This is around the time that he was hired by the MAERSK Group in Cotonou. He was not hired to work in his field of study (computer sciences), rather he was hired to manage the movement of containers. From this management position, Mr. Atchia used his innovative spirit to create a department of Information and Technology at COMAN SA.

Throughout his presentation, Mr. Atchia explained that as the IT Manager he is often required to lead others in a new direction and to convince them to accomplish tasks that they would otherwise not choose to complete. To articulate his role with the MAERSK Group, Mr. Atchia described the responsibilities of the IT department (ensuring security requirements are met, setting up a robust network, and keeping the company’s technology up-to-date…) and emphasized the importance of training and mentoring new staff members.

The Q&A and discussion following Mr. Atchia’s speech offered a number of insightful reflections. Gildas Adowe (MBA, Class of 2016) asked about the hiring process at APM Terminals. Mr. Atchia explained that the process is complex but not difficult as the MAERSK Group often organizes tests in schools, selects the best students, and adds them to a waiting list until the company needs to hire someone. Alexandre Yessoufou (MMES, Class of 2016) was curious to know the secret for APM Terminals’ success as a market leader. According to Mr. Atchia the secret is exceptional customer service. 

Antonin Dossou is greeted at the gates of ASE by Clementine Assede, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

 

December 1, 2014. Antonin Dossou, a statistician, an econometrician, and Benin's Minister for the Evaluation of Public Policies and Denationalization Programs, visited ASE’s campus in November 20 to share his professional wisdom as a part of the School's weekly Professional Development Seminar Series. Dossou started his presentation explaining the six factors that, according to him, are the key to achieve one's dream: integrity, responsibility, ethics, devotion to work, punctuality and, last but not least, respect of law.

Students found surprising to see how Mr. Dossou’s career was a compound of fortunate meetings that led him to success. He summarized his professional career into one sentence by Paul Asel: “there is no hazard, there are only appointments”. He also described how the foundation of his professional development was shaped by a number of critical meetings, some good and some bad. He shared five of the most significant meetings in his professional career with the audience:

1.Amos Elegbe in 1987 (Management in the craft industry from 1989-1993)

2.Paulin Coss (Access to the Central Bank of West Africa in September 1993)

3.Idris Dahouda (To integrate the Central Bank of West Africa)

4.Mr. Gilbert Medje (Evolution within the Central Bank of West Africa)

5. Pascal Koupaki (Promotion within the Central Bank of West Africa and the Government of Benin)

These five individuals helped him to understand the importance of connecting with others. Mr. Dossou’s message to the students at the African School of Economics was that life and one’s future can be built with the help of each meeting one attends. Along with working hard and diligently studying, he encouraged students to be polite and take hold of each available opportunity.

The audience, composed of ASE students, faculty, and staff, asked a lot of questions to the invitee. ASE’s Interim Dean, Professor David Gbaguidi, drew upon Mr. Dossou’s experience at the Central Bank of West Africa by asking what are the constraints of a fixed exchange rate on the countries of West Africa. Mr. Dossou replied by weighing the costs and benefits of a flexible exchange rate. He asserted that if countries believe the benefits of a fixed exchange rate are lower than the drawbacks, than a central bank must proceed with caution.

Many students were amazed to have the opportunity to personally interact with a Minister in this professional manner. They gained a great deal of life advice from Mr. Dossou that they will keep in mind for years to come. Mr. Dossou left the audience with a final piece of advice, a quote from Zig Ziglar: “It is not your Aptitude, but your Attitude, which determines your Altitude”.

Robert Djidonou (MMES, Class of 2016) introduces Antonin Dossou

 

Dossou shares the six keys to achieve one's dream

 

Aichatou Hougbe (MBA, Class of 2016) questions Mr. Dossou on his Professional advice

 

Brun Urick Tchoukou (MMES, Class of 2016) poses a question to the Minister

 

Marina Senami Monkoun (MBA, Class of 2016) asks Mr. Dossou about his experience at the Central Bank of West Africa

November 26, 2014. At many stages of life, people are called to select the best candidate for a job, team, or university admissions. ASE's Professor Maxime Agbo has designed a model to explain the perpetual search for talented individuals across overlapping generations.

Prof. Agbo’s presentation on Tuesday, November 18th was the most recent installment of ASE’s weekly Academic Research Seminar Series. On the ASE campus, located in Abomey-Calavi, Benin, Prof. Agbo shared his latest paper, A Perpetual Search for Talents Across Overlapping Generations: A Learning Process, with students and academics. His study considered a class of multi-armed bandit problems. The bandit is an arm-acquiring, restless, and mortal individual; the rewards of the bandit may follow any distribution.

Prof. Agbo discusses the application of his model on the talent search of job candidates

This is similar to the case of a committee whose mission is to select the best candidate from a pool of applicants. The applicants live for K periods and have different levels of seniority. In each period, new young talented candidates enter the pool. Prof. Agbo found that if K is infinite (i.e. the candidates live forever) than the problem is indexable. However, the index he found is different from that of Gittins and is easier to implement. On the other hand, if K is finite, than the problem is not indexable. In this case, he has only partially solved the problem. Under a number of conditions, he has developed a criteria to compare two talents. He also found that the solution he proposed is still optimal in case of multiple talent searches.


Students were amazed to see how an ordinary problem of selecting talent can be thoroughly modeled; they were especially impressed by how Prof. Agbo has integrated the history of candidates into the model. Gildas Adowe, an MBA student, enquired if this model can used to solve problems in the business world. Prof. Agbo answered by suggesting the application of this model to the selection of the best debtors in a micro-finance institution, based on their history of debt repayment.


Prof. Agbo concluded his presentation by asking interested students to join him in his research. He challenged the audience to contemplate the aspects of this problem that remain unsolved.

Maxime Agbo addresses the audience

 

Gildas Adowe (MBA, Class of 2016) enquires about the application of Prof. Agbo’s

model the business world

 

Kalemba Tite (MMES, Class of 2016) discusses the limitations of the model

November 26, 2014. ASE’s campus in Abomey-Calavi hosted last November 12 Dr. Blaise Gnimassoun, from Université Paris Ouest Nanterre, who presented a paper entitled Current Account Sustainability in sub Saharan African: Does the exchange rate regime matter? This presentation was part of ASE’s Academic Research Seminar Series.

Prof. Louise Grogan opened the seminar by introducing Dr. Blaise Gnimassoun, an economist specialised in applied macroeconomics and international finance with a regional focus on Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). He began his presentation sharing some of his motivations behind this research project; he mentioned a lack of studies focused on developing countries as a strong reason why he decided to focus on the SSA region.

 

Dr. Blaise Gnimassoun presenting on the current accounts of sub-Saharan African countries

 

Professor Gnimassoun discussed the monetary unions of SSA countries (i.e. West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), specifically the effect of monetary unions on the behavior of each member country. For instance, a country’s membership in a monetary union limits its ability to expand the money supply and modify the value of the currency. On the other hand, monetary unions allow countries to avoid external disequilibrium. Dr. Gnimassoun discussed the trade-off  between flexibility and sustainability when countries join a monetary union. He also explained the effect of the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative on the current accounts of SSA countries.

To conduct his study, Dr. Gnimassoun used data from 44 countries and recent panel co-integration techniques. His investigation is modeled by a formal macroeconomic theoretical framework of a small open economy.

At the conclusion of his presentation, Dr. Gnimassoun synthesized his work on current account adjustments and their sustainability in SSA. His findings show that current accounts have been globally sustainable in this region over the 1980–2011 period. The results of his study suggest that sustainability is lower for countries operating a fixed exchange rate regime or belonging to a monetary union. This difference in sustainability may be explained by a higher persistence in the current account adjustment when a country is operating under a rigid exchange rate regime.

The audience, composed of ASE students and faculty members, questioned Dr. Gnimassoun on the subject of his research. Q&A time included, among others, questions on the software and the model used in his study, the effects of a country’s membership in a monetary union and which exchange rate regime would he would recommend: fixed or flexible.

Wilfried Bankole (MMES, Class of 2016) reflects on his understanding of current accounts

 

Abdoul-Aziz Adama (MMES, Class of 2016) asks Dr. Gnimassoun to elaborate on his opinion of monetary unions in sub-Saharan Africa