UJ welcomes top international scholars to discuss latest research on risk and uncertainty

The School of Economics at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) welcomed top international scholars to discuss the latest research on risk and uncertainty.

Aptly named Risk and Uncertainty in Finance and Economics (RUFE) the four-day conference (04-07 April 2023) was hosted at the University’s Auckland Park campus, Johannesburg and the Glen Africa lodge in Pretoria. The conference discussed the different forms of risk and uncertainty, how these can be managed in finance and economics, and how these can be mitigated from causing harm.

In his opening remarks, UJ Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Letlhokwa Mpedi, highlighted the importance of a conference such as this-that it provided an opportunity to share latest developments in research, while also strengthening the understanding of finance in a global context.

“This conference provides a unique opportunity to discuss developments in the field of finance and economics considering the current global context. We will explore impactful research and thinking on risk and uncertainty, and how they affect financial decision-making. I look forward to the valuable contributions that will be made over the next two days,” Professor Mpedi said.

Collaboration between UJ and Bielefeld University

The RUFE conference was organised in collaboration with the Bielefeld University in Germany. Distinguished Visiting Professor, Frank Riedel, of the Bielefeld University represented the Bielefeld University on the conference’s organising committee. Prof Riedel shared that most of the challenges faced in the world today are characterised by risk and uncertainty. He added that the conference would put UJ and the country on the international research map.

“It is crucial to put UJ and South Africa in general on the international research map. The major challenges facing societies today, energy crisis, climate change, financial turmoil, to name but a few, are all characterised by risk and uncertainty. It is important that universities conduct basic research on these topics. We don’t offer specific solutions to specific problems, but universities are the right place to think strategically about the fundamental problems facing societies around the world and how to deal with them,” he said.

Prof Riedel added that the broadly speaking, the conference addressed fundamental modeling issues related to risks and uncertainties in economics.

“The conference discussed fundamental modeling issues related to risks and uncertainties in economics. Uncertainty here refers to situations where it is difficult to assign concrete probabilities and new techniques for managing conflict and allocating scarce resources are therefore required. Scholars also discussed optimal contracts in energy markets, demographic uncertainties and their impact on investment returns, systemic risk and, from local scholars, more specific issues relating to South Africa, including savings behavior and credit risk,” he said.

UJ’s strategic objective of Global Excellence and Stature (GES)

Professor Riedel is visiting UJ as part of the Distinguish Visiting Programme at UJ. One of the institution’s strategic objectives is to obtain Global Excellence and Stature (GES). In the achievement of this objective, the University has appointed distinguished academics in various categories to generate research and nurture the next generation of academics. The professors have also begun establishing strategic networks for improved research excellence while contributing to the expansion of UJ’s global footprint.

Prof Riedel is one of these academics. He said this conference is one of the ways to achieve this goal and to additionally create pathways of collaboration for UJ and Bielefeld University; “Within this program, on the one hand, we have been able to develop and extend the aim of the master program in financial engineering. Two junior researchers, Prof. Simo-Kengne and Dr. Mba have been able to spend research visits in Germany at my Center for Mathematical Economics at Bielefeld University.

The current conference on ‘Risk and Uncertainty in Finance and Economics’ formed the next step in putting UJ on the international research map. We welcomed top scholars from Paris, London, Canberra in Australia, and Berlin to discuss the latest developments in our fields with local researchers and scholars from South Africa. The conference formed an excellent opportunity to form further links and relationships with the international research community,” he said.

Opportunities for collaboration and future research

Director of the School of Economics at UJ which was the host of the conference, Professor Hinaunye Eita, said the conference brought together leading scholars in economics to discuss pressing global financial issues.

“From the cost of running a company to the hikes in interest rate, it is no wonder that the ongoing energy crisis in SA has fueled high levels of uncertainty and risk with far reaching consequences on people livelihood. Job insecurity increases with the widespread power cuts, which are disruptive for corporates and make it difficult for them to recruit new staff or to keep the current employment load. The RUFE conference brought together leading scholars around the world to discuss cutting edge tools and approaches to risk and uncertainty modelling and impact assessment,” he said.

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