Wisdom Akpalu joined UNU-WIDER as a Research Fellow based in Ghana in the beginning of 2014. Prior to joining the Institute he was an Associate Professor of Economics at the State University of New York at Farmingdale as well as Chair in the Department of Economics. He is originally from Ghana. He received his PhD from the University of Gothenburg after participating in an educational programme funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).
Carl-Gustav Linden (CGL) spoke to Wisdom Akpalu (WA) during his visit to Helsinki.
CGL: How did you end up studying economics?
WA: As a young person I was very curious about why some countries are doing better than others. I used to watch the news, read newspapers and realized that African countries were struggling while other countries were doing okay. My curiosity eventually led me to try to find answers and that is what brought me to economics. Within economics, I got quite interested in a number of issues such as environmental economics; I realized that natural resources form a very important basis for Africa's development. I also got interested in econometrics because I wanted to use quantitative methods in trying to address some of these important issues that are confronting the continent.
Wisdom says that every time he travelled from the US to Ghana he visited his alma mater, University of Cape Coast, to meet students and colleagues. He felt a strong need to move back to help smart and passionate young women and men who want to become researchers.
CGL: And what brings you to UNU-WIDER now?
WA: Every summer when I went to Ghana, I organized quantitative research workshops where I taught young lecturers, and sometimes even people in other fields, on how to do quantitative research, how to collect data and analyse data, and write reports.
Besides participating in capacity building he also wanted to contribute to policy discussions in Ghana.
WA: Being in Ghana and taking part in discussions is quite different from being abroad and working on Ghana. I had all these thoughts, and then I saw the advert that UNU-WIDER was looking for someone to be a part of a PhD programme in the University of Ghana (Legon) that was geared towards building research capacity in Ghana and Africa. I got really excited. I didn't even think twice. I applied for the job and here I am.
Wisdom believes he has very much in common with the philosophy of the Institute.
CGL: What makes the Institute unique for you?