Ghana Research Team: Experiences from 2017-2020

Ghana Research Team: Experiences from 2017-2020

Check out my team’s experience on our resesrch project. 🙂

Curbing Illicit Financial Flows from Resource-Rich Developing Countries


In this post, the Ghana-based economics researchers present their experiences over the period 2017-20. Dr. Ama Asantewah Ahene-Codjoe and PhD candidate Angela Alu worked collaboratively with project coordinator and lead researcher, Dr Rahul Mehrotra at the Graduate Institute, Geneva to analyze and estimate illicit financial flows via trade misinvoicing in the export of Ghana’s top commodities (gold and cocoa beans). The researchers adopted an innovative, interdisciplinary approach comprised of qualitative, political economy analysis to identify inherent risks for IFFs in selected commodities before applying statistical price filter methods based in turn on legal transfer pricing guidelines for conducting arm’s length price analysis. This blogpost presents a summary of the Ghana team’s research findings, alongside an overview of the main challenges faced and solutions adopted.

Our research

Cross-border illicit financial flows (IFFs) via misinvoicing of international trade have been a challenge for resource-rich developing countries aiming to increase domestic resource…

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Health Risks of Secondhand Smoking

Health Risks of Secondhand Smoking

Check out this educative health related post by Leroy Baffoe!

Tobacco smoke poses a lot of threat to the smoker and the environment around him or her. It is unfortunate that my people think they do not smoke and so are in some way free from the effects of tobacco smoke even though some way get into them. Although in most countries public smoking is prohibited, yet the effect of the smoke even when smoked in our homes, offices or designated areas for smoking still linger on. Secondhand smoking is the act of taking in “exhaled” air from a smoker or taking in smoke from the lighted end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar.

There are two main types of secondhand smoking. The first is known as mainstream smoking and it is the smoke exhaled from a smoker (1). It is not as dangerous as compared to the second type of secondhand smoking which is known as sidestream smoking and it is the smoke which goes into the air directly from a burning cigarette, cigar or smoking pipe. It is the main component(about 85%) of secondhand smoke. The chemical constituents of sidestream smoke, also known as passive smoke, are different from mainstream smoke and is classified as Class A carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency (2). In sidestream smoking, the carcinogenic(substances capable of causing cancer) particles are more and so make their way into the lungs and body cells more easily, causing more damage.

Figure 1: Sidestream Smoke (
Figure 1: Sidestream Smoke (

When non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke, it is called involuntary or passive smoking. Non-smokers who breathe in secondhand smoke take in nicotine and other toxic substances the same way smokers do. The more secondhand smoke a non-smoker breathes in, the higher the levels of harmful substances or chemicals in his or her body. There is no safe level for secondhand smoke, meaning every dose of inhaled secondhand smoke is harmful.

Figure 2: Smoke by a window in a pub(https://en.m.wikipedia,org/wiki/Sidestream_smoke)
Figure 2: Smoke by a window in a pub(https://en.m.wikipedia,org/wiki/Sidestream_smoke)

Some effects of secondhand smokes are cancer, other disease such as heart attacks and strokes and finally death. Secondhand smokes contain more than seven thousand (7000) chemicals including at least seventy (70) that can cause cancer alone. Secondhand smoke can cause cancer in people who have never smoked. Secondhand smokes also affect the activities of the heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk of hearts attacks and strokes in non-smokers. Young children are more easily exposed to secondhand smoke as they might be ignorant of the consequences or might not know any technique to prevent the smoke from entering their body. They are also mostly affected by secondhand smoke as their immune systems are not fully developed to expel or counteract the harmful chemicals. Secondhand smokes can also trigger asthma attacks in all ages.

Secondhand smokes are threats at the workplaces especially private offices. This threat mainly occurs when a secretary or any other person enters that office. Public places such as restaurants or pubs where smoking is allowed also pose a lot of threat to non-smokers who might be there or pass by. In our homes, a parent or any other person who smokes poses a lot of threat to the constituents of the home especially children. Secondhand smokes can also be harmful to people in cars either commercial or private when the windows are opened.

To sum everything up, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke as stated earlier and thus ‘any’ exposure is harmful. The only way to fully protect non-smokers from exposure to secondhand smoke is to prohibit all smoking in that particular place where smoking is done. Also, restaurants, pubs and public eateries where smoking is prohibited should be patronized instead of the ones that do not. Separating smokers from non-smokers, spraying the air with an air refresher(cleaning the air) and ventilating buildings cannot prevent non-smokers from being exposed to secondhand smoke.

Figure 3 :(https://m.facebook/Sarcasmlol)
Figure 3 :(https://m.facebook/Sarcasmlol)

References :
Mainstream Smoke. In National Cancer Institute. Retrieved January 30, 2020, from
Sidestream smoke. In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 30, 2020, from https://en.m.wikipedia,org/wiki/Sidestream_smoke

Leroy Baffoe

Reflections on Humpty Dumpty

Reflections on Humpty Dumpty

My awesome friends are contributing blogposts!!!!!

Second guest post for the year written by the awesome Zuviel Naazie


A Nursery Rhyme

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the King’s horses and all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

…and now for the world’s most awkward segue.
I don’t like fighting.
That surprises a lot of people given how prone I am to increase the…likelihood of a fight with unrelenting snark but I really don’t like to fight or watch others fight.
I still love action movies though…I’m talking about real-life, non-fictional, friend vs friend, husband vs wife, parent vs child, sibling vs sibling fighting.
Sure, we all been taught to stand up for ourselves and what is right.
We know that we shouldn’t bend over and do nothing when we see something going wrong.
Injustice, oppression, cruelty…we, as a species, have fought against these things since we knew how.
But, to fight always comes with a cost.
A risk of losing something precious, or changing a dear feeling into a horrible one.
And I’ve seen fights do exactly that.
Turn friends into enemies, make familial bonds distant.
As much as I embody the qualities of a loner, I still hate to see bonds breaking between people.
A fight might be necessary…but a fight will make you bleed, a fight will scar you.
And those broken bonds are not easily repaired…after all
All the King’s horses and all the King’s men,
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Zuviel Naazie

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Fighting a losing battle…?

Fighting a losing battle…?

A familiar passage of scripture took on a new meaning for me.

So, the Isrealites were fighting the Philistines and they were being defeated so they went for the Ark of the Covenant. And by their faith, victory was certain for them after this “boss move.”

But it turned out that was not necessarily the case. Because guess what, God had earlier given a prophecy to little Samuel that He was going to do a thing at which the ears of everyone who heard would tingle. It was a prophecy about the destruction of Eli’s family. His two sons, Hophni and Phineas were the priests in charge.

So God was not actually with them as they thought. But the Philistines had no way of knowing this. They only had the wisdom to know that they had to give their all since they were fighting a losing battle…and soldiers never want to be defeated.

So fight they did. To the extent that the Philistines won the war and the sons of Eli were killed.

My question for you and I…what “seemingly” losing battle are you fighting? What seems so impossible? Have you tried “forcing your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone, and so hold on when there is nothing…” (Rudyard Kipling)
Try it today, try it this year and see. The results might astonish you.

Text: 1Sam 4:1-11

Angela Azumah Alu

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Love unspoken -A review of “A man called Ove”by Blackman Fredrick

Love unspoken -A review of “A man called Ove”by Blackman Fredrick

I totally loved this book!


“Sometimes the people who love us might not know how to say so but the show us that they do in the most beautiful and most thoughtful ways” EAL 15th January, 2020

This review is not much of anything to dedicate but who cares😀. I dedicate it to my dad who never says much but will do anything to ease our pain and make us smile.

Dear daddy, Ove reminds me of you in so many ways. Writing this bring tears to my eyes as I remember how sweet you’ve been to me. I appreciate all the thoughtful things you’ve done for me. The awkward phone calls, the beautiful lunch dates( which made your wife jealous), the kind messages you sent me when my heart ached, your support through all my milestones. The list is endless but I love you back in a special way.😘😘😘😘, Awo.

Alright, my mushy side…

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Hope: The Oldest Plan in the History of Time

Hope: The Oldest Plan in the History of Time

Welcome to 2020! There’s some debate about whether the new decade starts this year or in 2021…but either way, it’s a new year with amazing possibilities!

One thought for you this year: what’s the worst that can happen? Aka, Just try. You may have heard it several times…but try implementation 🙂

In line with “just starting”, our first blog post for the year is an experience of the magical power of hope. Enjoy! May your year be awesome!

It’s a guest post by Kwame Amoako.

“A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses; it is an idea that possesses the mind”

~ Robert Oxton Bolton~

It is entirely your choice, to believe or not to believe. It is entirely your will, to want or not to want, whatever you choose to do, be sure to do it right for the world – it never hurts. This statement is how I summarize my journey to the United States of America.

I have always told my closest friends that one day I wish to be in the United States of America; that one day I wish to be a student of one of the Ivy Leagues; that one day I wish to have my children born in the United States of America. I admire this country so much for all the “great things”, an expression my 96-year-old friend and mentor, Mr. Richard Maximillian Akwei, used to describe what he loves about the country, “The United States has the best of everything and the worst of everything, but Kwame, go for the best of everything!”, in his own words.

All these were wishes. Did I have a plan? No! Where was I going to stay? Whose am I going to? Am I going to quit my job? Am I moving my wife too, simply because I wanted to be in the United States? So, to simply answer the question, it would make no sense! What was the plan then? I am glad you asked. Come along with me, let’s explore the oldest plan in the history of time.

It was a Thursday night in the month of December and the year was 2018. I got home tired from work and I was met by my wife with a smile I recognized the day we first met. She looked at me in my tired state and said, “honey, God has honored us with parenthood…you are going to be a father!” this was her way of announcing that she was pregnant! I knelt before her and spoke these words to the growing blessing in her stomach, “I will make you proud to call me dad!” and I meant those words because I always wanted to be the father I never had; one who makes his child the center of every action he takes and every move he makes; one who stays up all night planning a future ten steps ahead of his child. Except I was wrong about the statement “…the father I never had”. Because I had benefited from exactly that, from the God I cried a “broken Alleluiah” to, every night before sleeping. My son was born on August 8, 2019. Guess where he was born?

I named my son Maximillian, after my 96-year-old friend and mentor. The meaning of Maximillian is “the greatest”, a name the Roman Emperor Frederick III, gave his first son and eventual heir. Guess whose first name is Frederick?

I had applied to Yale School of Management to take a Master of Advanced Management program – a post MBA program offered by this great institution. I got admission into the school on April 1, 2019 and the fee wasn’t an amount I could cough out. I know the question you wish to ask me, “Kwame, if you didn’t have the money for the program, why did you apply?”, a deeper person would add, “especially when you had a baby on the way”. Well, newsflash…you are not the only one who thought that way. I had three friends who asked me this exact question!

I went to the States in July and my son was born there in August, then I left for school exactly a week after. Yes, I was present during the birth and was given the honor by the surgeon, to cut the umbilical cord of my son, as his father. Guess who owes nothing for the birth of Maximillian? I am proud to give my son dual citizenship as a gateway to making him a citizen of the world! This was a statement I made when I was 15 years old!

As you read this article, the second and final semester of my program starts next week and guess who owes the school no outstanding bill?

This is what I am trying to say to you as you read every line; I only hoped for these things to happen and I had no plan! One thing I was sure of was 1 John 5:4, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” This belief possesses my mind and not the other way around, as rightly put by Robert Oxton Bolton. Not because I was born a Presbyterian, and not because my grandmother made sure to wake me up at 4:00am, to do our morning devotion every day before school, when I was a child. But because I have been the main character of the story of miracle.

As for how I came up with the title of this article, here’s how; a young man I am mentoring asked me, “Kwame, I know you didn’t have enough for Yale and yet you’re there now, how are you going to go through with it?”, my response, “Nana, I have a plan”. “What exactly is this plan, Kwame?” he asked. That very moment, I had a strong conviction to use these words, “the oldest plan in the history of time”. “which is?”, he asked again. I responded, “hope”!

I had one thing in my backpack for this hiking and climbing journey, to chart a path worthy of pride, truth, honor, justice, purity, love and praise in the eyes of the world I leave behind (Philippians 4:8); that one thing is hope.

As I said in the beginning, it is entirely your choice to believe or not to believe. It is entirely your will, to want or not to want, whatever you choose to do, be sure to do it right for the world – it never hurts!

Kwame Amoako

Book Review: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Book Review: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

I read this in one day. That’s how amazing it was!

I’ve only watched some episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” and none of any of her series but I loved the book!

So Shonda Rhimes spoke about her year of saying yes. She shared that it begun with her sister telling her : “You never say yes to anything.”

Those 6 words literally changed her life. She worked on celebrating herself, accepting compliments, losing weight her own way, saying no, managing difficult conversations and attending events and giving speeches.

I loved the way that once she started saying yes to things that made her uncomfortable it spilled over into all areas of her life. It was a real journey of self discovery.

And her writing was amazing! It was real, funny and very personal.

It’s a pretty powerful book about what happens when you “do” instead of only “talking”.

What might you need to change in your life? 2020 is coming. Start now. You never know what could happen.


Angela Azumah Alu