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Sun, 26 Nov 2023 Feature Article

The Requisites of a 24-Hour Economy

The Requisites of a 24-Hour Economy
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The presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress has proposed to implement a policy of 24-hour economic activities. The proposal has generated some thought-provoking debate among policymakers and analysts. The specifics of the policy have not been publicised, and this makes a critical assessment of the new economic policy difficult. Critics and the proponents of the policy have engaged in vague arguments since the announcement of the policy.

The 24-hour economy promised by the presidential candidate of the NDC appears to be a social media reaction to economic policy in its current state. It does not have any policy capacity to resolve the economic challenges of Ghana, especially the basic challenges that need immediate attention. The policy is anchored on just running or having a 24-hour set of economic activities without targeting a particular sector. The policy has generic underpinnings that cannot actually effect positive economic outcomes for any sector of the economy.

Many sectors of the economy already have a 24-hour service of economic activities, which may only need adjustments or mainstreaming to fit into a modern economy. For instance, healthcare delivery in Ghana is supposed to have 24-hour economic activities with shifts among the staff, and the security service must also run a 24-hour economy. This makes the proposal of a 24-hour economy meaningless or vague in its entirety. The MMDAs are experiencing disguised unemployment, making them unproductive. It does not make economic sense to implement such a policy in that sector.

A 24-hour economy in Ghana requires a policy that targets a particular sector to produce real impacts on economic growth and development. For instance, the manufacturing or agricultural sector can be the targeted sector to implement such a policy. The 2024 budget, on page 55 (Pdf version), indicates that the agricultural sector will slow down in 2024, largely on the back of lower growth in the crops, livestock, and fishing sub-sectors. The sector’s growth is projected to increase to 5 percent from 2025 onwards.

A policy intervention that stimulates the growth of the agricultural sector is needed. The proposal of the NDC presidential candidate must be focused on providing solutions to challenges in critical sectors of the economy. A policy to implement a 24-hour economy demands critical economic analysis with regard to the productive capacity and demand for outputs locally or in foreign markets. The proposed economic policy can be used to create economic activities for the sector to spur the sector’s growth.

Industry is expected to contract by 1.2 percent in 2023, as provided in the 2024 budget statement and economic policy. The various subsectors of industry, with the exception of mining and quarrying and electricity, will equally contract. Oil and Gas, a major sub-component of the industrial sector, is expected to continue on a downward path, contracting in the end. Such a sector equally needs a 24-hour economy to revive growth performance.

The proponents of the policy usually focus on implementing a 24-hour economy to provide services to the people of Ghana. The service sector is the largest contributor to Ghana’s GDP and may not need any policy intervention from the government to grow. The other sectors of the economy need the service sector to thrive. Consequently, the development of the agricultural or industrial sector will affect the growth of the service sector automatically.

It is trite to limit the analysis of the policy potentials of the proposed 24-hour economy for Ghana to the provision of entertainment services and economic activities that involve cafes, restaurants, food delivery services, pubs, hotels, wholesale, and retail. The proponents should not focus on the provision of services at the expense of manufacturing and agriculture. The scope of the proposed 24-hour economy for Ghana needs to be redefined.

The inability of a sugar factory to produce to meet the demands of consumers in Ghana or as a means of substituting imported sugar cannot be resolved by a 24-hour economy. The reasons for the operational deficiencies of the factory must rather be identified and technically diagnosed than just suggesting the factory operates 24/7 to meet the demands of its consumers. The reasons why goods are imported into the country cannot be a yardstick for the implementation of a 24-hour economy. The importation of foreign products into the country might have been induced by factors such as competitive pricing, the quality of the products, and profitability.

Therefore, the macroeconomic environment of Ghana must be analysed and understood before targeting a particular sector with the 24-hour economy policy. The policy in its current form is economically arbitrary, making its potential impacts on the key sectors of the economy negligible.

Emmanuel Kwabena Wucharey
Economics Tutor, Advocate and Religion Enthusiast

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