A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development


A third university from French-speaking Africa, the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin, joined the Virtual Institute on August 23.

The initial contacts were made two years ago, thanks to our colleagues at the World Trade Organization's Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation, who had selected the university to host its regional trade policy courses for French-speaking Africa.

It was during my mission to Cotonou in October 2009 that I was made aware of the plans of the university to establish a Regional School of International Trade (Haute Ecole Régionale de Commerce International - HERCI) and was requested to provide comments on the design of the Master's programmes envisaged. The School was officially inaugurated in November 2010, and started offering courses in February 2011. At this point, the university decided to apply for Vi membership.

The objective of HERCI is to provide education and training on issues related to international trade and trade negotiations to current and future professionals in the public and private sectors in Benin and the sub-region, and to undertake trade-related research.

At the moment, the school offers two professional Master's programmes in international trade policy, management of international maritime relations, and a research Master's in international trade. Eight lecturers from the university are involved in the delivery of these programmes. They are complemented by five trade professionals, including the former ambassador of Benin in Geneva. HERCI also plans to launch a bachelor in international trade and to gradually develop research on trade-related issues.

The participation of the university in the Vi will be coordinated by Prof. Pasteur Akpo, HERCI Director and coordinator of the WTO regional courses for French-speaking Africa. Akpo holds a PhD in Economics and is responsible for courses on macro-economics, economic analysis, monetary economics and international trade. His research interests cover monetary policy, governance, competitiveness and trade policy - areas in which he also acts as consultant for national and regional bodies and international organizations.

The school is looking for support in terms of access to the expertise at UNCTAD and the Vi network and to suitable teaching materials. They are also interested in joint research and updating their knowledge in the trade and development field.

We would like to welcome the University and the School to the Virtual Institute network and are looking forward to our future cooperation.

For more information, take a look at the university profile.