Thu, 30 Nov 2023 Feature Article

Do Ghanaians Really Know the Benefits of a 24-Hour Economy? Dr. Aduhene-Kwarteng asks

Kwame Aduhene-Kwarteng PhD, MAKwame Aduhene-Kwarteng (PhD, MA)

Former President John Dramani Mahama's intention to establish a 24-hour economy if re-elected in 2024 has received mixed reactions from politicians, business leaders, ordinary Ghanaians, and civil society. The many advanced and industrialized countries that Ghana and other developing nations aspire to be like have a 24-hour economy, so the division among Ghanaians on this proposal has made me wonder whether Ghanaians truly understand a 24-hour economy. When discussing a 24-hour economy, we focus on making it as vibrant, productive, and diverse at night as it is throughout the day. A 24-hour economy establishes a plan of action to ensure the smooth operation of business at night and during the day on all parts of the financial system.

While many Ghanaians, including Hon. John Mahama's disciples, see this proposal as an excellent way to combat rising unemployment and a struggling economy, others, including members of the ruling party (New Patriotic Party), believe otherwise. They oppose the policy because the country faces infrastructure challenges such as an unreliable power source, a poor transportation system due to poor road networks, and logistical complexities.

Another reason given by some the anti-24-hour policy initiative is that it could have negative societal consequences because it may result in fewer community ties and a sense of loneliness among those who work irregular hours. According to a top politician in Ghana, the 24-hour economy, if implemented, will result in broken homes because the policy would prevent men working the night from sleeping with their wives at night, which would eventually cause problems in various households. Furthermore, research consistently shows that long-term night shift work and irregular hours lead to sleep deprivation, which is also associated with psychological disturbances, such as impaired memory and reaction time.

However, these policy opposers have forgotten that Ghana has been grappling with unemployment since its independence and that the 24-hour economy has an incentive for Ghanaian industries and can inadvertently increase the demand for labor, thus creating employment avenues for many citizens, especially the youth.

The policy will promote tourism in the country, generating revenue. This is because vibrant cities in the country will attract visitors, restaurants and shops will be open late, transportation will be available 24 hours a day, and getting from point A to point B will be simple. Another advantage of the 24-hour economy is that it will promote safety and security. An empty street can be a haven for criminal activity. Still, when a city is crowded 24 hours a day, it attracts people to stay outside because they feel much safer. Criminals will find it challenging to operate efficiently in such an environment.

Additionally, the 24-hour economy will double incomes, absorb extra labor, and provide the necessary impetus for transformation. It will also help fill the trough of nighttime baseload generation and offer economic incentives to investors by allowing increased revenue streams through higher utilization of existing or proposed generation assets.

The 24-hour economy will improve worker punctuality and attendance and increase productivity. It will also increase the number of customer-friendly shops by providing customers with longer, flexible opening hours and increase efficiency and competitiveness in managing some businesses.

Ghanaians should note that advanced and industrialized countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, and Dubai have boosted their economies by implementing a 24-hour economy strategy. Cities in the United States, such as New York and Las Vegas, are known for their vibrant day and nightlife and continuous activities, made possible by a three-shift system. Tokyo, Japan's capital city, has transportation services and convenience stores open 24 hours daily. This creates more jobs for the people.

New things face resistance or opposition in our part of the world, so I will implore the new NDC Government to seal the policy when elected by educating Ghanaians on the benefits of a 24-hour economy. Hon. John Mahama and his new government must support and ensure that there are more feasible and accessible infrastructure and transportation systems in the country. Public safety must also be one of the things they should pay close attention to if they want the initiative to be successful.

Ghanaians must recall that when VAT was first introduced, the NPP was so opposed that it organized several protests against its implementation. Ghanaians expected the NPP to repeal it as soon as they took power, but what did they see? The NPP went ahead and entrenched it and also increased the tax under it.

Finally, I want Ghanaians to understand that the policy can benefit every citizen while sustaining a vibrant society. Ghanaians must accept it and applaud Hon. John Dramani Mahama for proposing such a transformative plan for our dear country.

Dr. Kwame Aduhene-Kwarteng (Castro)