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Humphrey Fellow from Togo Performing Research at Mason to Explore Digital Payment Platforms

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“I consider this one year as arguably the most fulfilling time of my life,” says Piyabelan Bouyo, a Humphrey Fellow visiting scholar from Togo who is mentoring under Professor J.P. Auffret from George Mason University’s School of Business and Volegenau School of Engineering’s Center for Assurance Research and Engineering (CARE).

Humphrey Fellow, Piyabelan Bouyo is visiting George Mason University for eight weeks and working with Professor Auffret for her Humphrey Fellowship Professional Affiliation on the topics of Digital Payment Platforms and technology networking policy striving to someday create a digital payments platform for Togo.

Under JP Auffret’s guidance and mentorship, Piyabelan Bouyo’s work with Mason encompasses:

  • Researching business models and technological approaches for digital payments platforms in West and East African countries.
  • Analyzing the opportunities and limitations of Togo’s regulations as part of the roll-out of a new electronic payment system.
  • Researching the highest security integration models in payment transactions.
  • Developing a business plan for a Togo digital payments platform.

Piyabelan is working with JP virtually as part of the Humphrey Fellowship Program which is a Fulbright Program through the U.S. Department of State. The Humphrey Fellowship provides a select group of mid-career professionals from developing countries with ten months of graduate study, professional development and cultural exchange in the U.S.  Fellows are selected based on “potential for leadership and dedication to public service.” Alumni have made contributions in their home countries ranging from serving as government Ministers to starting schools and leading transformative policy initiatives.

Piyabelan continues, “My time here exposed me to the best possible academic environment and has brought me in contact with some of the most extraordinary people that I have ever met, people with diverse backgrounds. Now, I have friends in every continent of the world, and I cannot thank the US State Department enough for giving me this amazing opportunity. Thanks to Mason as well for showing me your superb institution and allowing me to learn so much. I plan to bring back everything to my country.”

The research is urgent because the adoption and use of digital technologies in Togo would improve the efficiency and quality of public services and enhance transparency and accountability. Currently, however, the penetration rate of mobile broadband is 20%, placing Togo in 28th place in sub-Saharan Africa, while 3G and 4G cover only 65% and 10% of the population, respectively.

Prior to visiting Mason and working with Professor Auffret, Piyabelan spent eight  six months with the 2020-2021 Humphrey cohort at Syracuse University for graduate public policy study. Syracuse welcomed Fellows this year from Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Tanzania and Togo. For 2020 – 2021, there are more than 125 Humphrey fellows from 81 countries. Syracuse University is one of 12 campuses across the country to host Fellows.

In Togo, Piyabelan Bouyo is a technical manager at Mainway, a Togolese company in digital, electrical, and environmental transition. She previously spent 18 years at Togo telecom as Network Switch Manager and Head of Audit and Billing. Her goal is to establish an IT consulting firm to develop a practical framework integrated with Togo’s National Development Plan and U.N. Sustainable Development Goals by incorporating data-driven decision making.

Piyabelan earned a Master of Science in Information and Communication Technology from the Institute National des Postes et Télécommunications, Morocco and Ecole Supérieure Multinationale des Télécommunications, Senegal.

Piyabelan is the eighth Humphrey Scholar Fellow to visit the School of Business and mentored by Professor JP Auffret. Previous Humphrey Scholars that Auffret has hosted were from Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Russia, and Namibia.