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!