University of Nairobi (UoN) tutorial fellow Socrates Majune. He is the inaugural winner of the WTO's Trade Economist Thematic Award.
University of Nairobi (UoN) tutorial fellow Socrates Majune. He is the inaugural winner of the WTO's Trade Economist Thematic Award.

University of Nairobi (UoN) School of Economics tutorial fellow Socrates Majune is the inaugural winner of the Trade Economist Thematic Award, a new research-based competition by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Majune’s policy paper beat out competition from scholars from around the world earning him the prestigious award and a Sh620,000 (5,000 Swiss Francs) cash prize.

His winning paper was titled The Effect of Lockdown Policies on International Trade Flows from Developing Countries: Event Study Evidence from Kenya. It explored the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on Kenya’s international trade, analyzing import and export data.

The paper was in line with the competition’s 2020 focus on the effects of Covid-19 on global trade and trade policy.

As it emerged, Majune had already been working on the paper before stumbling upon the WTO call for submissions. Celebrating his win, he noted that it was testament to the quality of learning available in African institutions such as UoN.

University of Nairobi (UoN) tutorial fellow Socrates Majune.

Majune is also currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Nairobi.

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‘‘I’m deeply honored to be the first recipient of the award which emphasizes my deep interest in international trade.

“It’s also a statement about the quality of teaching and training in Kenyan and African universities,’’ he told journalists.

His paper was praised by, among others, Robert Koopman, director of WTO’s Economic Research and Statistics Division.

The paper relied on import and export data for food and medical supplies broken down by country for the period between July 2019 and June 2020. 

According to Majune’s research, lockdown policies by trading partners led to an average increase of weekly exports from Kenya by 12% and an average decline of imports by 28% during the period under study.

“The decline in imports was caused by disruption of sea cargo trade with countries that introduced lockdown measures, which more than compensated for a significant rise in air cargo imports,” the paper reads in part.

In the same period, food exports and imports both grew by 18 per cent and 25 per cent respectively, in response to lockdown measures.

“The rise in food exports explains part of the increase in overall exports, while the increase in food imports implies a fall of demand for other durables that more than compensated for the increase in food imports,” the researcher noted.

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