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Press Release | June 9, 2022

Johannesburg – South Africa’s former Statistician-General and head of Stats SA, Dr Pali Lehohla has partnered with Dr Asghar Adelzadeh, Director and Chief Economic Modeler at Applied Development Research Solutions (ADRS) to establish and launch South Africa’s first Economic Modelling Academy (EMA).

Dr Lehohla has spent a considerable amount of time at the heart of an institution (Stats SA) that provides South Africa’s key economic data which is critical in economic modelling. Dr Adelzadeh brings over 30 years of experience in economic modelling where he built large-scale economic models with user-friendly web interfaces to allow policymakers and analysts to design and assess the impact of policy choices and produce projections for a variety of institutions. The two are the Academy’s co-directors and will bring to bear their combined wealth of experience to deliver highly impactful programmes with the hope that this will make a significant contribution to South Africa’s economic planning.


Commenting on the importance of the Academy, Dr Lehohla said “EMA is essentially a capacity building organization designed to empower people and organizations to skilfully use economic models in spheres of research, policy and planning. Its focus is to help those researchers, policy makers, legislators, civil society, professionals in the private sector and anyone involved in planning to develop high level skills to strengthen their contributions in all aspects of decisionmaking from policy design, impact analysis, predictive analytics to monitoring and evaluation”.

The Academy’s learning modality includes three key approaches: a) Building analytical skills by providing a substantive review of relevant analytical and policy issues, b) Demystifying economic modelling by using accessible language to teach economic modelling techniques, the role of theory, data, statistical analysis and computer programming in building empirical models for policy design, impact analysis, projections, and monitoring and evaluation; and c) Providing direct hands-on experience by ensuring that those taking any of the courses have direct access to innovative online models of more than 60 countries that teach learners the analytical and empirical skills needed to tackle real world economic challenges. User-centered models provide direct hands-on experience and practice as an integrated feature of the training curriculum.


The Academy’s first set of inaugural courses will focus on the first three courses listed below, namely Multi-Sector Macroeconomic Modelling, Provincial-District-Municipal Economies and Social Protection Modelling. Thereafter EMA will offer many other modelling courses, such as those that address Poverty-Inequality, Skills Demand and Supply, and the Green Economy. Additionally, organisations and enterprises may request dedicated courses specifically tailored to the needs of their employees.


1. Multi-Sector Macroeconomic Modelling– This course first reviews main concepts, topics, and debates in macroeconomics. Participants will learn about distinguishing features of capitalism, its sources of dynamism, growth, employment, and unemployment. In the process, they will become familiar with the main distinction between mainstream and heterodox schools of thought in economics, which is fundamentally about how capitalism works, and the debate on the role of the state and policy in the economy. The course will then present the aims and experiences with macroeconomic modelling. The course goes into detail on why and how macroeconomic models are built, their theoretical orientation, architecture, role of data, statistical analysis and computer programming. Specific course modules will cover the process of building an actual model and its operation. Learners will have access to state of art macroeconomic models to learn and practice designing macro and industry policy scenarios, conducting impact analyses and integrating model projections into medium- and long-term M&E.


2. Modelling Provincial-District-Municipal Economies– This course reviews topics in national, regional and local economics. It tackles issues about dynamic two-way industry and
macroeconomic interactions between national, provincial, and local economies. With access to an economy-wide linked model, the course goes into details on why we build linked nationalprovincial models, their architecture, role of data, statistical analysis and computer programming. Through hands-on practice sessions, the Academy’s web-based linked models
allow learners to forecast the impact of national level policies on provincial economies and the impact of provincial interventions locally, on other provinces and at the national level. Course modules are also dedicated to teaching how to integrate linked national-provincial model projections into provincial and national M&E.


3. Modelling Social Security And Public Works– Social protection is one form of state intervention in a market economy. This course will first provide an overview of the history of social assistance, range of interventions, boundaries of social assistance, national variations (in the size of social assistance), causes and consequences of social assistance, and roles of the economy, the state and civil society. The course reviews theories of the causes of social assistance, and alternative interpretations of the consequences of a social assistance program for modern developed and underdeveloped economies.


The course will then introduce learners to economic modelling techniques that are used to design social assistance policies and quantify their economic and social impact. Learners will also learn about microsimulation and linked macro-micro modelling techniques that are internationally used for the above purposes. With direct access to both types of models, the course goes into detail on how a microsimulation model and a linked micro-macro model are built, their architecture, role of data, statistical analysis and computer programming. Through hands-on practice sessions, the web-based models allow learners to design Basic Income Grant and/or other social assistance policy scenarios and forecast the impact of your scenarios on individuals, households, and the economy at various levels. Course modules are also dedicated to teaching how to integrate model projections into national and provincial M&E system.


Dr Adelzadeh emphasises that “EMA is designed to build the capacity of the state, private sector and civil society in evidence-based economic policy design and implementation. It helps individuals attain the skillset they need to understand and use economic models in their demanding role in the policy sphere”.


The courses are suited for people that already have their first degrees, whose work or occupations involve policy processes, and whose work would benefit from training in understanding and using economic modelling. Those who will find the Academy’s offering beneficial include policy makers, researchers, civil society, economists, unionists, professionals working in the public sector at various levels and who are required to make inputs in policy decisions.


More information about the Economic Modelling Academy is contained on its website


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