The Team


Core Team


Prof. Corné van Walbeek

Principal Investigator and Professor, Director of REEP, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Corné is currently a Professor at the School of Economics at UCT, and Director of the Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP). 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, REEP, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


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.

Toughedah Jacobs

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


Toughedah Jacobs is the Programme Director for the WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub on Tobacco Taxation. She moved to the Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP) from the Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU), where she was the Project Manager for 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.

Micheal Kofi Boachie

Postdoctoral Fellow, Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP), School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Micheal is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP), University of Cape Town. 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.

Sam Filby

Project manager of the Knowledge Hub and Research Officer, Research on the Economics of Excisable Products, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Sam Filby is the project manager of the Knowledge Hub and a research officer at the Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP). She is also a lecturer and course convenor in the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town. Sam holds a Masters in economics, specializing in economic development from the University of Cape Town. Sam has has four years' research experience in the economics of tobacco control. Her current research is focussed on implementation of Article 6 of the FCTC and tobacco tax modelling. Sam has developed tobacco tax models for various low- and middle-income countries, including Vanuatu, Georgia, Cabo Verde and the Philippines, amongst others.

Ntombi Mbasa

Operations and Grant Manager, Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP), School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Ntombi Mbasa 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.

Auxiliary Team


Zunda Chisha

Research Officer and Masters student, REEP, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


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 Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (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, REEP, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Vanessa Darsamo 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.

Sharon De Bruyns

Administrator, REEP, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Sharon is the administrator of the Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP). Her functions include: HR, Finance, organising workshops, data cleaning and capturing, and managing the website. Sharon joined our team in June 2013. She has much experience having worked at Old Mutual for 26 years.

Simphiwe Khoza

Research Officer, REEP, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Simphiwe 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.

Senzo Mthembu

Research Officer, REEP, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Senzo Mthembu joined the Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (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.

Kirsten van der Zee

Research Officer, REEP, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Kirsten is a Research Officer for the Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (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, REEP, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Nicole holds a Masters of Social Science in Economics (specialising in Economic Development) from UCT. She joined the Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP) 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.

Visiting Scholars

Jean Tesche

Special Consultant, Knowledge Hub on Tobacco Taxation and Illicit Trade, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Jean Tesche has a PhD in Economics (CGE models, Comparative Econ Systems) from Columbia Business School at Columbia University. She considerable experience in tax policy, administration, and modelling: particularly tobacco tax modelling. She has taught economics in the US, Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and worked with US Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance, the World Bank and the World Health Organization, mostly in the Balkans, Eastern Europe and Africa. Jean is a visiting researcher at the University of Cape Town, and joined the Knowledge Hub on Tobacco Taxation and Illicit Trade as a special consultant in early 2019.