Research Staff


Prof. Corne Van Walbeek
Principal Investigator and Professor, School of Economics, University of Cape Town

Corné is currently a Professor at the School of Economics at UCT. His research interests are primarily in the economics of tobacco control, and in particular how changes in the excise tax on tobacco products can affect cigarette consumption. Within this field, his research has focused on the estimation of price elasticities of demand, how excise tax increases impact the poor, changes in smoking by different demographic groups over time, and the industry’s reaction to changes in the tobacco excise tax.

Dr. Hana Ross
Principal Research Officer and SALDRU Affiliate

Hana received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has over seventeen years’ experience in conducting research on the economics of tobacco control and in management of research projects in low- and middle-income countries. Her current research projects focus on the economic impact of tobacco control interventions in Africa, South East Asia, and in the European Union. She is also interested in the economic impact of risk factors associated with non-communicable diseases such as obesity, lack of physical activity, and alcohol consumption.

Dr. Micheal Kofi Boachie
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Micheal is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at REEP. He received his BA and MPhil degrees in Economics from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, and a PhD (Economics) degree from Annamalai University, India. Micheal has research interests in Health Economics and the economics aspects of Tobacco Control.

Zunda Chisha
Research Officer and Masters student

Zunda is a Zambian Masters student with an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Zambia. He spent four years working in the area of malaria control with a focus on surveillance systems in low transmission areas. Currently, he is working part-time with the REEP as a Research Officer. He is also working on completing his Masters’ thesis which is focused on inequality in smoking prevalence and its impact on various outcomes in Namibia. His areas of interest include the public health impact of tobacco taxation, understanding the illicit trade of tobacco and the translation of these into policy.

Vanessa Darasamo
Data Clearing House Co-ordinator and PhD student

Vanessa holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Demography from the University of Swaziland and completed a Masters Degree in Development Economics from the University of Cape Town. Vanessa studied the societal costs of methamphetamine use in the Western Cape province in partial fulfilment of the degree in Development Economics. Vanessa is the project coordinator in the Tobacco and Alcohol Data Clearinghouse, which is concerned with collection and dissemination of tobacco and alcohol-related data. Previously, Vanessa worked with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on HIV costing studies with International Research Exchange Board (IREX) on a media strengthening project.

Chengetai Dare
Research Fellow

Chengetai is a Research Fellow at REEP. He holds a BSc Economics and MSc Economics, both from the University of Zimbabwe. He received his PhD from Stellenbosch University. His research interests are tax policy, tax administration, health economics, public economics and behavioral (experimental) economics.

Sam Filby
Programme Manager

Sam is a Programme Manager for the Knowledge Hub. She is also a lecturer in the School of Economics. Sam holds a Masters in economics, specializing in economic development from the University of Cape Town. Her dissertation focussed on barriers to FCTC implementation in South Africa, particularly on the economic aspects of the treaty. Sam joined REEP as a research assistant in 2016 during her Masters studies. Her current research focuses on the analysing the impact of the FCTC on price and tax measures adopted in countries around the world and the economics of tobacco control more broadly.

Zachary Gitonga
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Zachary is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at REEP. He completed his PhD (Economics) at the University of Cape Town. He holds a Master of Science degree in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Nairobi. Zachary has research interests in impact evaluation, applied research in development and health economics. Previously he worked as a research associate at CIMMYT, a research assistant at the University of Nairobi, and an MSc. research fellow at ICIPE.

Toughedah Jacobs
Programme Director for the WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub on Tobacco Taxation and Illicit Trade

Toughedah is the Programme Director for the WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub on Tobacco Taxation. She moved to REEP from the Development Policy Research Unit, where she has been the Project Manager for the last 8 years, successfully managing large and complex academic and policy-oriented research programmes. Toughedah obtained her M.Comm in Economics from the University of Cape Town in 2007. She worked at the Western Cape Provincial Treasury before joining the University of Cape Town.

Simphiwe Khoza
Research Officer

Simphiwe is a Research Officer for REEP. She holds a Masters specialising in Economics from the University of Stellenbosch. Her thesis analysed SA health data and census data to identify socioeconomic trends to better understand whether economically disenfranchised communities with the highest burden of HIV were not prioritised during ARV rollout, and had a lower probability of receiving ART during 2005 to 2008. The study uses non-parametric estimation methods such as survival analysis as part of supervised learning from the actuarial tool kit. Simphiwe has a strong interest in Data Science within economics, more by using machine learning and deep learning techniques to better understand human behaviour.

Ntombi Mbasa
Operations and Grants Coordinator at REEP

Ntombi is the Operations and Grants Coordinator at REEP. Prior to working at REEP, she worked as an Administrative Associate at J-PAL Africa and at EcoPlanet Bamboo SA (Pty) Ltd as an Administrator and Quality Manager. Ntombi has a Bachelor's of Administration (Honors) with a specialization in Public Administration from the University of Pretoria. Ntombi has also completed a short learning program in Risk management from UNISA. She is currently studying her Masters in Development Finance at UCT GSB.

Senzo Mthembu
Research Officer

Senzo recently joined REEP as a Research Officer. Senzo completed his Masters in Commerce, specializing in Economic Science at the University of Cape Town. His Masters thesis analysed the socioeconomic impact of stock volatility in the fishing industry. Senzo's research interests include data quality, socioeconomic issues and labour economics with a focus on inequality, price elasticity and public policy. His current project at REEP is on the tobacco tax reforms, within the context of promoting economic and human development in West Africa.

Abel Otwori Nyagwachi
Research Officer

Abel holds a Master of Economics Degree from Kenyatta University, Kenya. He joined the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2015 for his PhD studies. His PhD thesis used household survey data to examine some of the effects of tobacco and alcohol control policies that were implemented in Kenya between 2005 and 2015. His research interests are primarily in public health, international macroeconomics and economics of tobacco and alcohol control.

Ernest Ngeh Tingum
Research Officer

Ernest is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. He received a PhD in Economics from the University of Dar es Salaam. During his PhD, he was a researcher with the “Tobacco Control Analysis and Intervention Evaluation in China and Tanzania” team at the Department of Economics. From 2012 to 2015, he was the Lead Specialist for Wage Indicator Foundation in Amsterdam and between 2015 and 2016, he was a research fellow at the School of Public Policy, Central European University (CEU), Hungary. He has also worked as an independent consultant with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on issues of youth and women employment in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. His current research focuses on tobacco taxation and its interface with industry reactions and responses, effectiveness of tobacco control policies, illicit trade of tobacco products, labour market issues and collective bargaining in the African labour market.

Kirsten van der Zee
Research Officer

Kirsten is a Research Officer at REEP. She holds a Masters specialising in Applied Economics from the University of Cape Town, where her Masters thesis analyses minimum wages in the South African agricultural sector. She has research experience in development economics with a focus on labour economics, minimum wages, and poverty and inequality analysis. Her current research focuses on the collection of cigarette price data in Africa and tobacco taxation policy in South Africa.

Nicole Vellios
Research Officer

Nicole holds a Masters of Social Science in Economics (specialising in Economic Development) from UCT. She joined the project as a Masters student in 2011, and after graduating, joined the project full-time. Her Masters level thesis focused on the determinants of smoking initiation in South Africa using the first wave of the National Income Dynamics Study. Her current research interests include the impact of tobacco taxation on public health, the illicit trade of tobacco products, and the determinants of smoking initiation.