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21 October 2020
UWC runners-up in the annual Young Economist competition
For the first time in the University of the Western Cape’s history, its Economics Department has a team in the top three of the Young Economist competition - the 2020 edition took place in September and October.

The annual competition is open to first year undergraduate students from the three universities in the Western Cape. Teams have to compete in an economic forecasting challenge.

UWC’s Andupaline Kordom (20) and Yandisa Diko (18), both BCom Accounting students, finished in the top three.

The competition, sponsored by the Department of Economics with R15000 cash prizes, is similar to the Economist of the Year competition, with students having to predict economic variables such as inflation, economic growth and the exchange rate.

Dr Carmen Christian, lecturer at UWC’s Economics Department, said: “This is a major win for UWC, which normally only attends this competition but is never placed. It is one more piece of evidence that we can compete with our neighbouring universities in the Western Cape, despite the challenges we face. I'm sure this will inspire more UWC Economics students to compete next year.”

Kordom, from Clanwilliam in the Cederberg, said: “Everything starts with taking that first step, because if I hadn’t taken part in this competition, I would not have had the opportunity to achieve this special award. This achievement is a sign that God answered my prayers, and with His grace, I can achieve anything”.

“I want to deliver the highest standard of work and I remind myself  that set-backs are the barriers that excite me when I break them down and use them to my own advantage.” 

She said in preparation for the competition they covered mountains of research using Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) time-series data as a main determinant for their forecasts. “We would research on our own and determine our forecasts based on the factors that might influence them. 

“In the end, we would compare our outcomes and decide which forecast is closest to being the most accurate,” said Kordom, who listed her “most inspiring lecturer as Mr Rodrique George.

She had a hatred for accounting initially, but she is glad it became such a passion that she applied to study towards a BCom Accounting degree at UWC.

“I realise now that accounting provides one with skills and knowledge that can be applied to a number of things. I believe as long as businesses exist, accountants will always be needed. The profession is organised, logical, and rational, and that’s what excites me.”

Her teammate, Diko, who grew up in Durban, believes that resilience was key to obtaining  the spot in the top three: “I believe this is a quality my teammate and I both possess, and that research and more research proved to be the answer.” 

She adds that her most inspiring lecturer would have to be her first-year lecturer, Mr Edwardo Muriro. “ One lesson that always stuck with me is that, we are all individually responsible for our own success, hence we should act like it and take charge. I am now at a stage where I am driven by the change and impact I want to bring,” said Diko.

Labour and development expert and HOD at UWC’s Economics Department, Professor Derek Yu, congratulated the team. “This is the first time in the department’s history that we have a team in the top three of this competition. This was truly well done,” said Prof Yu. 

“We are hoping - assuming campus reverts back to normal early next year - to invite them as special guests to attend the Postgraduate Economics students welcoming function and acknowledge their achievement along with an internal prize.” 

He said his department is looking forward to seeing them enrolling in Economics 2 modules next year.

Prof Yu also thanked the first-year Microeconomics Lecturer and module coordinator, Velenkosini Matsebula, for his dedication to market the competition and his strong encouragement that UWC students enter the competition at the start of the third term.