On Thursday, May 4th, 2017, ASE students exchanged questions via Whatsapp with Tite Yokossi from MIT as part of ASE’s ongoing Career-Building International Chats series. During the discussion, students received technical help and general advice on research projects that they are working on. The guest discussed his motivations for working on research papers and ways to identify interesting research topics with promising results. At the end of the conversation, Dr. Yokossi advised ASE students to never give up and always remember why they are doing what they are doing. He added that the training at ASE will be very useful for some graduates to do high-impact research and for others to hold jobs where they can lead, manage and provide value to the continent.

 

Tanzanian Ansila is a former student of the African School of Economics (ASE), a pan-African University based in Benin. She graduated last December 2016 and is currently working with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) as a Senior Field Manager. Below is a summary of her professional experiences following her time at ASE.

 

After graduating from ASE, Ansila Kweka worked as data manager at WASO (Wake Up and Support Others) an organization engaged in HIV prevention interventions. Thereafter, she worked as a research assistant for different projects in Tanzania including the Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD). This Program aims to explain variation in governance and local development in an effort to promote human welfare globally. It gives insights into the role of state and non-state actors, to consider the relationship between local level factors (e.g., poverty, gender relations, elite dynamics, ethnic diversity, etc.) and governance.

Currently, Ansila is working with IPA (Innovations for Poverty Action) as a Senior Field Manager on the STRYDE (Strengthening Rural Youth Development Through Enterprise) 2.0 project in Mbeya, Tanzania.  Her main responsibilities are ensuring data integrity is maintained at all times, minimizing errors in recording all data, scheduling and attending meetings between IPA and Local Leaders, managing a team of Senior Field officers and Field officers,  supervising all the field work and ensuring consistent communication between all the team members. 

She highlights: ‘’…all the skills I received from ASE, including courses and interactions with different people around the world through research seminars and summer school trainings, helped me to be where I am today. ASE does not teach people to be strong; it makes people strong’’. 

What has stuck with you from ASE?

‘’This school reminds me of a lot, one being interacting with a lot of good friends from around the world.’’

 

With a Master's Degree in Mathematics, Economics and Statistics from the African School of Economics (ASE) from the Class of 2016, Brice Gueyap is one of five former students of ASE who have received the opportunity to pursue a PhD in a North American University. Here is his biography.

 

A native of Melong in Cameroon born in 1989, Brice is en route to Penn State University, following his classmates who recently gained admission to Princeton, NYU, Illinois and Ottawa. Brice was spoiled for choice as three universities looked favorably upon his application: Pennsylvania State University, Georgia State University, and Simon Fraser. "Honestly, it was not easy for me. I was interested in all three offers. I chose Penn State University, mainly because of the diversity and richness of the research conducted by the faculty. That was really what interested me, theoretical econometrics. "

Prior to joining ASE, Brice received a degree in Mathematics at the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Yaoundé in 2014. That year he was admitted to ASE, a Pan-African university based in Benin.

Since September 2016, he has worked as a research assistant at the ASE on two research projects, "Examining the impact and cost-effectiveness of additional girls-centered mathematics courses", sponsored by MIT’s Jameel Abdul Latif Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and "Evaluation of the impact of the promotion of girls' education in Benin: a natural experiment", sponsored by the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie).

 Brice also works as a teaching assistant at ASE for Advanced Game Theory and Mathematical Statistics courses. Brice says, "ASE is doing what many universities in Africa do not do: providing students with an English-language education of international standing, and promoting skill-building through the work-study program, and research activities, all of which have enabled us to enter American universities”.

April 8, 2017. The African School of Economics community once again organized its 3rd one-to-ones chat session, a forum for students to interact with a researcher via WhatsApp.

The guest was Louphou Coulibaly, a 4th year PhD candidate from the University of Montreal in Canada. The conversations between ASE students and Mr. Coulibaly revolved around macroeconomic theory topics including business cycles, monetary policy, macroeconomic effects of financial crises, and optional financial regulation, which are Mr. Coulibaly’s areas of interest.

According to Mr. Coulibaly, doing a PhD in Economics is the best way to learn more about economics and thus be able to participate in the development of students’ respective countries. ASE students also gained insights from him about the best way to proceed when writing a Master thesis in Economics. He said that first, students need to be involved in and love what they want to do as researchers. Next, they should find the field in which they are interested, then find a supervisor, and finally choose a relevant research question. Mr. Coulibaly’s experience sharing and contributions were very helpful to students. At the end of the session, Mr. Coulibaly said that what was achieved through this chat session was very great and that he expects to have another opportunity to interact with ASE students.

These sessions are an initiative of Simplice Adjisse, an ASE pre-doctoral fellow and moderator of the event. Further WhatsApp discussions are yet to be organized, and students are looking forward to the next guest.

 

On March 21th, 2017, the African School of Economics (ASE) received at its weekly Academic Research Seminar Alex Dobyan, current Princeton-in-Africa fellow at ASE. His topic was: Who sells the truth? A case study of reporting in the Boko Haram crisis. Alex explained the manipulation of information in the media with the effect of creating an environment of uncertainty and mistrust among the Nigerian population.

 

For example, he showed for the same period and the same attack, very varied figures in the newspapers: from 30 to 300 victims. In this context of manipulation, populations unable to identify credible sources and are suspicious of government sources.

 

Going further, Mr. Dobyan reports that in case of defeat on the ground, the actors in conflicts invent statistics and give information that suits them. According to the researcher,  this information failure is hampering the Nigerian government from getting more support from the affected population to ultimately defeat Boko Haram.