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Sidy Mohtar Kounta (pictured, left), lecturer/researcher at Vi core Senegalese university member, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, fleshed out his PhD thesis during a Vi fellowship that brought him to Geneva October 2 to November 5.

Kounta is examining the effect of "rules of origin" -- the criteria used to define where a product was made -- on trade flows in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region.

The Vi fellowship "has allowed me to come away with a full database, abundant documentation to better treat my topic, and most importantly, a clearer idea of the methodology to be used," Kounta said.

With guidance from Samuel Munyaneza, of  UNCTAD's Trade Analysis Branch (pictured, right), Kounta identified and collected data that was missing from his research dataset by using World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) software and various UNCTAD databases.

"I received tremendous support in my data gathering," Kounta said. "I especially benefited from the provision of access to WITS and with the support of Mr. Munyanesa, whose assistance was arranged by the chief of the Virtual Institute. With the software I was able to access practically all the data I needed."

The fellowship was also an opportunity for Kounta to complete his literature review, refine the scope of his research, and determine the best suited methodology to address his topic.

The Vi "facilitated my access to the UN library, and Mr. Cristian Ugarte (Vi), with whom I was in constant contact in my different acitivities, was also able to get me a meeting with a specialist in rules of origin at the WTO." Kounta also received guidance from Marco Fugazza (pictured, left), of UNCTAD's Trade Analysis Branch, an expert in the gravity model, the primary methodology to be used in his research project.

"This fellowship allowed me to have a clear idea of ​​how to approach the question that interests me, and how to provide relevant responses, which was not the case before coming here," he said. "It is necessary that this fellowship program continue because it is very important for us researchers, especially African and Senegalese academics, who have a lot of trouble accessing the resources necessary to do in-depth research."

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