Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane - Spotlights


Dr. Ghazanfar Publishes Article on the Possibilities for Big Data Analytics at Malaysian HE Institutions

Dr. Ali Abbasi Ghazanfar, Assistant Professor in the School of Business Administration at AUI, has recently published an article in the prestigious ABS 3* journal, Technological Forecasting and Social Change (TFC), which has an impact factor of 8.59. In this article, titled "Big Data Analytics Capability for Improving Higher Education Institutions' Performance in the Era of IR 4.0: A Multi-Analytical SEM & ANN Perspective," Dr. Ghazanfar explores the possibilities for big data analytics at higher education institutions (HEI), particularly at Malaysian HEIs. He uses information processing theory and resource-based theory to ground his analysis. His proposal to use Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modelling and Artificial Neural Network (ANN), a new deep learning model in Artificial Intelligence, suggests that using big data analytics can, indeed, help improve the performance of HEIs. 

Dr. Djallil Lounnas Interviewed on Recent Developments in the Sahel and the Role of Algerian Policy There

Dr. Djallil Lounnas, Associate Professor of International Studies at the AUI School of Humanities and Social Sciences, was recently interviewed by Radio France Internationale on the recent evolutions in the Sahel and the foundations of Algerian policy there. Considering that the Algerian army has limited itself to fighting terrorist groups within its borders, the question is what Algeria will do now that the threats are next door. Dr. Lounnas explained that, in part due to its porous borders with Mali, whatever happens in the Sahel region can, in turn, also affect Algeria. One point he discussed was Algeria's "solution politique" - in which the goal is to convince terrorist leaders to surrender and help their social reintegration, which has proved successful in the past - and how this is a tool Algeria may consider with regard to Mali. 

If you are interested in learning more about what Dr. Djallil Lounnas shared about the current situation, please read the full interview at: 

Dr. Ikram publishes an article on the intensifying effects of COVID on the economy of several Asian countries

SBA Professor Dr. Muhammad Ikram has recently published an article on the severity of COVID-19 effects in the Journal of Asian Business Studies (JABS), a double-blind peer review journal that welcomes high quality conceptual, empirical, and literature review papers. In addition, JABS is indexed in various databases such as ABS, ABDC, Web of Science, and Scopus. In the study, a novel grey relational analysis models approach is used to examine the inter-relationship between COVID-19 economic growth and environmental performance in several Asian countries. The authors apply a conservative (maximin) model to investigate which countries have the least intensifying effects among all of the top affected COVID-19 Asian countries based on the SS degree of grey relation values, using data collected from multiple databases during 2020. 

Results indicate that the severity of COVID-19 shows a strong negative association and influence on the exportation of goods and services, logistics performance, ISO 9001, and ISO 14001 certifications in all the six highly affected countries during the pandemic. Although the adverse effects of COVID-19 in exporting countries persisted until December 31, 2020, their magnitude decreased over time in Indonesia and Pakistan. During the COVID-19 outbreak, Pakistan showed comparatively better performance among the top six highly affected Asian countries due to its smart lockdown strategy, which helped the country prevent severe damages to its economy, while Indian and Iranian exports drastically decreased due to a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. The research findings produce essential policy suggestions for leaders, world agencies, and governments to take corrective measures on an emergent basis to prevent the economies from more damages and improve their logistics, environmental, and quality performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

More details about the article can be found at 

Dr. Ikram publishes articles on Sustainable Energy Development in the Asia and Oceania Region and on Green Supply Chain Management (GSCM)

SBA Professor Dr. Muhammad Ikram has recently published on the topics of sustainable energy development and on green supply chain management in two different academic journals. Dr. Ikram published an article titled “Models for Predicting Non-Renewable Energy Competing with Renewable Source for Sustainable Energy Development: Case of Asia and Oceania Region” in the Global Journal of Flexible Systems and Management (JFSM). JFSM is indexed in the Charted Association of Business Schools (CABS) and ranked at ABS-2 as per AJG 2021. 

This study develops the integrated grey framework to forecast the growth trends of renewable and non-renewable energy production and consumption in the Asia and Oceania region from 2017 to 2025 by using novel grey forecasting models, namely even the grey model, discrete grey model, optimized discrete grey model, and non-homogeneous discrete grey model (NDGM). The study is the first of its kind to develop the grey integrated forecasting framework to predict the renewable and non-renewable production and consumption in the region of Asia and Oceania. This study provides useful information for policymakers, decision-makers and energy experts in sustainable energy planning, and simultaneously helps to make the environment more sustainable. 

Dr. Ikram has also published an article titled “Factors affecting managers’ intention to adopt green supply chain management practices: evidence from manufacturing firms in Jordan" in the prestigious Environmental Science and Pollution Research (ESPR) journal. ESPR is a leading academic journal indexed in multiple databases such as Scopus and SCI, which has a 4.223 impact factor. 

The study presents a comprehensive framework to academics and decision makers that highlights the factors affecting the intention to adopt GSCM practices among supply chain managers. The study concludes that four out of seven factors such as supplier’s commitment, environmental sustainability, customer satisfaction, and cost factors are the most significant drivers of GSCM adoption among managers. In particular, these are the most significant factors that are related to the intention of GSCM adoption among supply chain managers. 

More details about the article on Sustainable Energy Development in the Asia and Oceania Region can be found at: 

And the article on Green Supply Chain Management can be found at: 

Dr. Lounnas Analyzes Sahelian Future in Light of Afghanistan

Dr. Djallil Lounnas, Assistant Professor of International Studies at AUI, recently published an article titled "Is Afghanistan Present Sahel's Future?" in the news website InsideOver. In this article, he analyzes the planned French withdrawal from Mali in light of the recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan. He wonders if the subsequent takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban is indicative/comparable of what could happen in Mali with the rise of jihadi groups, such as JNIM (Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims) and ISGS (Islamic State in the Grand Sahara). 

He first discusses how JNIM is a strategic threat, explaining how the group has drawn from the strategies promoted by Al Qaeda, such as the call for having a strong presence in the local communities, preaching to them and not doing violence to them so as to win their favor, as well as forming alliances with other groups, even if non-jihadi. Dr. Lounnas concludes that although the power of the current jihadi groups in the Sahelian states after the French withdrawal from the country raises some concerns, it is important to keep in mind that there other groups that are bigger and more powerful (these are not the most powerful, compared to other groups), and that "these groups often nourish themselves on local populations grievances in the context of States weaknesses more than on their own strength."