SIER 2017: Second Day of Panels

On December 15, 2017, ASE’s annual Summer Institute for Economic Research (SIER) held its second consecutive day of panels. Conducted in a bilingual manner to accommodate a wide variety of international researchers, the panels centered upon topics ranging from agriculture to data science.

The day opened with a special presentation from founder and President Leonard Wantchekon, who linked the objectives of SIER to future ASE developments. Highlighting upcoming initiatives, such as the 2018 Undergraduate Program and upcoming Masters programs in Agriculture and Biotechnology, Wantchekon stressed the importance of innovation and timely relevant research, both themes emphasized throughout the second day of presentations.

The first panel, entitled “Food Security,” opened with a presentation from Zara Riaz (Princeton University), who discussed an ongoing project examining links between citizen mobilization, government reactions, and food improvement outcomes. This was followed by presentations from Elise Ahovey, Director of Social Statistics at Benin’s National Institute of Statistical and Economic Analysis (INSAE), and Sylvia Ahouanse from Ministère de l’Agriculture de l’Elevage et de la Pêche (MAEP), who both discussed the issue of food accessibility, rather than food availability, in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The second panel, focused on agriculture and biotechnology, had five research presentations with experts stemming from the University of Abomey-Calavi (UAC) and the Laboratoire de Génétique Ecologique. Session attendees learned about the technicalities and economic elements of agriculture in Benin, receiving exposure to public policies regarding production, fertilization, environmental safety, and genetically modified organisms.

The final panel, centered upon technology and development, contained presentations focused on new systems created for the facilitation of financial transactions - “the crypto-currency.” Chaired by representatives from startups Etrilabs and Khulatech, presenters discussed the potential gains and ramifications of financial transaction technologies that are able to leapfrog bank intermediaries.

With over 70 participants in attendance, SIER’s second day of panels addressed emerging economic and social issues, and provided students, regional and international academics, and professors the opportunity to network and share cutting-edge research, establishing long-lasting links for collaboration in the future.