September 2, 2014. On Friday August 29, Africa’s largest center for training and research in economics and management, the African School of Economics (ASE), was launched with distinguished guests from around the world. Over 300 people, including government officials, members of the international community, current and past faculty, friends, and family gathered at the Benin Marina Hotel in Cotonou to celebrate this joyous occasion.

The evening was hosted by Dônklam Abalo, a local radio personality from Radio Tokpa. The spirit of Benin came to life with an energetic performance from the 3L Ifede  dance troop and a soulful rendition from Don Metok.

After marking the official opening of ASE with a toast, the audience welcomed ASE’s Director General, Professor Leonard Wantchekon, to the podium to share his vision for this ground-breaking institution. His remarks highlighted ASE’s strong analytical foundation and its unique position of understanding into the past and present realities of Africa. As a Pan-African institution, three ASE students from Benin, Cameroon, and Kenya described ASE’s exceptional capacity to lead the continent to new heights.

Wantchekon’s praise for ASE was reiterated by a number of honoured guests. Moïse Mensah, the High Commissioner for Collaborative Governance in Benin, shared his dream that by 2020 the alumni of ASE will present the world with new models of development. Benin’s Secretary General of Government, Alassane Tigri, expressed his hope that ASE will grow in size, quality and reputation.  Similar sentiments were shared by Aurèle Houngbédji, the President of Benin’s Advisor on Investment, as he encouraged ASE students to develop essential skills in mathematics. These inspiring addresses demonstrated the vast potential of ASE to develop analytical solutions for the people of Benin, Africa, and the World.

The evening festivities concluded with a banquet and many laughs on the dance floor. Stay tuned this week, as a number of ASE students will be sharing their account of the evening and the year ahead on our website.

For a complete collection of pictures from the event, check out ASE's Facebook Album here.

August 26, 2014. The African School of Economics will celebrate this Friday August 29 the inauguration of the school and opening of the 2014-2015 academic year.

The grand opening ceremony will take place in Benin Marina Hotel at 7pm in an event filled with authorities, faculty, staff, students and families and friends of the school.

Press contact:
Gerard Guèdègbé
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: (229) 21 30 79 92


August 6 , 2014. Leonard Wantchekon, founder and director of ASE, presented an update on ASE's academic project to a delegation of the government of Benin in a meeting that took place on Wednesday August 6 in Washington DC. The delegation was in DC accompanying President Boni Yayi for the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit. it included Marcel Alain de Souza, Minister of Development; Dorothée Akoko Kinde Gazard, Minister of Health; and, Nassirou Bako Arifari, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Among other topics, Wantchekon explained the mission and vision behind the African School of Economics, with special emphasis to the fact that the school has been conceived according to international academic standards and will train a first cohort of over 90 students enrolled in the MBA and MMES programs. The delegation was very supportive of the project and reitarated their willingness to supporting the initiative. Towards the end of the meeting, they watched a video of ASE's campus architectural design. Wantchekon was accompanied by Diana Davies, Vice Provost for International Initiatives at Princeton University, Shanta Devarajan, Chief Economist of the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa Region and Meritxell Roca, ASE Academic Program Manager. There will be follow up meetings in Benin by the end of September, ensuring the Government’s continuing support to the African School of Economics.

Picture: L.Wantchekon and S.Devarajan are interviewed after the meeting by ORTB

August 3, 2014. Last Sunday August 3rd, 2014, ASE organized a welcome meeting for the students that  already are in Cotonou. Seventy-eight (78) new students from various part countries attended the meeting along with a number faculty members : Marcos Aboubacar (Mathematics), Assani Amzat (English), Marcos Victor (English) and Louise Grogan (Applied Econometrics, Labor Economics).  A group of 15 staff representatives also joined the event.
The meeting was an excellent opportunity for students, faculty and staff to interact and get to know each other. Exchanges mostly focused on logistical issues related to English and Maths Prep courses that will take place during the month of August. A more formal welcome ceremony will take place next week.

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July 31, 2014. Recently, IERPE summer interns visited the coastal city of Ouidah, about a two-hour drive from Cotonou. A modestly sized and peaceful city, Ouidah’s easy charm belies at once its rich cultural heritage and harrowing history. Ouidah today is something of a study in contrasts: its lively main squares, status as a spiritual center, and pristine beaches speak to its appeal for locals and tourists alike. However, Ouidah also bears the burden of a tragic history, for in centuries past it was a major port where untold numbers of Africans were stolen, enslaved, and sent off to the Americas. A place where the ghosts of the past mingle with the vibrant pulse of life in the present, Ouidah proved to be an eminently thought provoking city—and a window into the brilliant confluence of history, tradition, and change that defines this intriguing country.

Ouidah is considered something of a spiritual capital of the local animist religion, Vodoun, even hosting an international Vodoun festival each January, and so we began our visit with a tour of a local temple. As our guide explained, the name “Ouidah” is a corrupted francization of “python” in the local Fon language—considered a sacred creature in the West African religion—and so the temple was in fact known as the ¬temple des pythons. True to its namesake, the temple did not disappoint, and the pythons—non-venomous, we were assured—were docile and perfectly content being picked up, held, and draped around our necks, much to our delight. Interestingly, directly across from the python temple stands a large church, built by missionaries aiming to convert locals from Vodoun to Catholicism. According to our guide, the things didn’t go entirely as planned: rather than switching religions, many locals simply combined them, going to church in the mornings and the python temple in the afternoon. Oftentimes, that status quo of mixed traditional and Christian or Muslim beliefs persists to this day, a testament to Benin’s fascinating cultural combinations and syncretic belief systems.

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Pictures: (1) Door of no return, Ouidah, (2) Jonathan Liebman holding a Python