On Saturday, October 4, 2014 the Muslim students of the African School of Economics (ASE) celebrated Aid El-Kebir, more commonly referred to in West Africa as Tabaski, at the International Student Residence. The Muslism students invited all their friends and professors to join in the celebration of Tabaski, which is one of the two most important festivals in the Islamic calendar.

The holiday was divided into three parts: prayer in the morning, a ceremonial sacrifice of a goat followed by a communal meal, and entertainment into the night.

At 9 a.m., Mohamed Baro along with his Muslim peers visited the mosque wearing their finest cassocks. One of the students, Adama Aziz, was elated to celebrate his first Aid El-Kebir in Benin.

With some students at the mosque, others began to prepare for the festivities. Students washed and cut up oranges. They chopped tomatoes and boiled water for rice. Outside of the kitchen, students swept the house in preparation for the guests’ arrival.

After three hours of prayer, Mohamed, Adama and the other Muslism students returned from the mosque. Upon their arrival, the goat was sacrificed, cleaned, and prepared for cooking.

With the food heating up, the invitees began to arrive. The first visitor was Ms. Clementine Assede, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, along with her three sons. One at a time, the guests arrived and began to fill the places in the living room. Guests were welcomed with fresh popcorn, peanuts, and soft drinks. The ASE professors who joined in the celebration included Mr. Maxime Agbo, Mr. Juste Some, Ms. Agnes Zabsonre, and Mr. David Gbaguidi. At around 3p.m., the feast of mutton, vegetables, and rice began. It was a festive occasion with plenty of food for all.

With bellies full and plates empty, everybody was content with the offerings of the feast. The meal was a fantastic example of teamwork amongst all the students. The quality of the food and hospitality was proof of a successful celebration. This celebration continued on into the night with photos, music, and dancing.

 

From left to right: Mr. Juste Some, Ms. Agnes Zabsonre, and Mr. Maxime Agbo take part in the feast.

September 30, 2014. Third-year Ph.D. candidate from Princeton University, Sanata Sy-Sahande presented her work on ethnicity-based voting and public goods provision in Ghana. She asked the question ``Do implementation costs condition the targeted provision of certain public goods to core co-ethnic supporters?'' To answer this question she employed detailed geographic information from Ghana, census data, historical information on the ethnic distribution of the population, and district-level information about the provision of roads.

Her strategy was to find variations in the cost of providing goods to people of a leader's ethnic group. Higher costs should mitigate the extent of provision to citizens of a leader's ethnic group. Opportunity costs should matter to public goods decisions, even under clientelist democratic regimes. Sanata showed that geographic distance from major centers to districts in Ghana was strongly and negatively conditionally correlated with the extent of several types of public goods provisions.  She made clear that rough geography is correlated with the extent of co-ethnic provisions, but that the conditional associations she has observed are not necessarily causal.

There were several questions from the audience. Elhadji Mai (MMES, Class of 2016) suggested that the analysis should distinguish between rural and urban areas. Jules (MBA, Class of 2016) was interested in knowing how the results would fit with the current situation in Benin, where the President is most popular in the north, and where public goods provisions are limited. Kalemba (MMES, Class of 2016) inquired about the actions of a leader within a political party, when that political party represents more than one ethnic group. Rosemonde (MMES, Class of 2016) was intrigued by Sanata's definition of co-ethnicity. Discussion continued after the presentation, with students inquiring about why Ghana was the main country examined in the empirical project. Overall, the seminar was well-received as the audience related the study with their own political experiences.

The next Academic Research Seminar will shift from politics to economics with a talk prepared by Louise Grogan. The presentation will begin on Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 12 p.m.

Sanata Sy-Sahande concludes her presentation on public goods provision and co-ethnicity.

Jules suggests applying this theory in Benin.

Rosemonde (right) listens to Sanata’s definition of co-ethnicity.

September 23, 2014. In the second edition of ASE’s Academic Research Seminar Series, Professor Juste Somédelivered an engaging academic seminar on his latest paper: Oil Demand and Supply Shocks in Canada’s Economy. Prof. Juste Somé recently completed his Ph.D. in economics the University of Montreal.  Additionally, he holds a Master in Statistics and Applied economics at the École National Supérieure de Statistique et d'Économie Appliquée (ENSEA) Abidjan. His research focuses on macroeconomics and applied econometrics. 

Prof. Some’s presentation provided attentive students with a background of macroeconomic demand and supply shocks. He outlined Canada’s historical transition to becoming a net exporter of oil. Prof. Some investigated how oil supply shocks, aggregate demand shocks, and precautionary oil demand shocks affect Canada's economy. Using the Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) model, Prof. Some’s results show that the dynamic effects of oil price shocks on Canadian macroeconomic variables vary according to their sources.

For Narcisse Nkwetchou (MMES, Class of 2016), Prof. Some’s seminar motivated him to consider using macroeconomic tools to study demand and supply shocks in his home country of Cameroon. Following the seminar, Narcisse stated that, “In order to complete a similar study in Cameroon, I know I must continue to study mathematics, especially advanced real analysis.”

Next week’s Academic Research Seminar will be led by Sanata Sy-Sahande. Her presentation entitled “Does geography shape redistributive politics in Africa?” will begin on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 12 p.m.

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Professor Juste Somé describes the structure of his model.

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Narcisse Nkwetchou (left) questions Prof. Somé on the application of his model.

 

Professor Akim Adekpedjou set the bar high as the first researcher to present in ASE’s Academic Research Seminar Series. This weekly seminar series will provide ASE students the opportunity to engage with high-quality scholarly research. This exposure to first-rate studies will surely benefit students as they look ahead to their own Master’s Thesis Defenses at the end of their studies at ASE. By welcoming a wide-range of scholarly talent to ASE’s campus on a regular basis, this series is sure to spark the academic interests of students.

The first presenter, Prof. Akim Adekpedjou, is an associate professor of statistics at Missouri University of Science and Technology. He has a PhD in statistics from the University of South Carolina. His research interests range from complex survey data, reliability theory, applied stochastic processes, actuarial science, parametric and nonparametric survival analysis, and recurrent events.

His seminar focused on recurrent events, as expressed in his paper entitled, “Chi Square Test Based on Random Cells With Recurrent Events.” Prof. Adekpedjou explained that recurrent event data is often observed in a wide variety of disciplines including the biomedical, public health, engineering, economic, actuarial science, and social science settings. His paper develops a procedure to test the null hypothesis that the distribution of recurrent events belongs to some parametric family of distributions. This test is based on the minimum chi-square estimator and a nonparametric maximum likelihood estimator of the distribution of events. Prof. Adekpedjou stressed the importance of modeling and testing recurrent events to evaluating policy effectiveness in the aforementioned disciplines.

 As a statistician, Prof. Adekpedjou provided a detailed explanation for the students with previous degrees in Mathematics, while applying his research to a fleet of Boeing 720 jet planes' air conditioning systems for those with alternative backgrounds. Prof. Adekpedjou made time to address students’ questions and concerns.

Anceline Bayavuge (MMES, Class of 2016) appreciated the opportunity to question Prof. Adekpedjou on his work. “He explained the difficult topics with ease and answered all our questions. I now see that the statistical methods in his paper are less complicated than I originally imagined,” explained Anceline.

On September 23, 2014 at 12 p.m., Professor Justé Some will deliver the next academic seminar on his latest paper: Oil Demand and Supply Shocks in Canada’s Economy.

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Professor Akim Adekpedjou (left) addresses the students at ASE.

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.

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

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

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