I have read Manasseh’s piece on HE John Mahama’s 24-hour economy proposal about three times and can confidently conclude that Manasseh is both an avowed pessimist and an intellectual dwarf. Nothing personal, Bro. Had Chairman Mao or Indira Gandhi fallen for your rather backward kind of thinking both China and India would still be wallowing in abject poverty and still be labelled as third world countries. It takes a bold visionary leader to see possibilities and opportunities where others see vast emptiness and obstacles.
Manasseh, you either enjoy a fudge and mudge around your own syncopation of carefully selected emotion-packed words or you simply refuse to reason. And many a Ghanaian finds it difficult to understand your never ending penchant to use your pen to destroy the very fine gentleman they see as their messiah. We are still waiting for you to furnish us with hard core evidence to support your long winding pointless stories of accusation about the Ford Expression gift, trying to create an illusion of corruption where clearly, none existed. In case you have forgotten, we are also still waiting to see at least one professionally captured photo or video of the akonfem flying to Burkina Faso that you made song and dance of. I still want to give you the benefit of the doubt by believing you have what it takes to be a good investigative journalist, not one who limits their “investigative” writings to wild magic mushroom-induced effusions that frankly, border on hallucinations. Are we seeing a reincarnation of Don Quixote in you?
You have made a lot of comparisons with existing 24-hour economies from a variety of countries around the world and most of your observations are right. However, common sense should tell you that a developing economy rich in natural resources, which is yet to construct a lot of infrastructure to meet its basic needs has all the ingredients in place to take off like a rocket if the right atmosphere, aka enabling environment is created. Why do you think the developed economies tend to invest in infrastructure to kickstart their economies that slow down dangerously? “Each $1 billion in infrastructure spending would create 1 million full time equivalent jobs” (Josh Bivens, 2017 published in the USA economic policy institute article titled the potential macroeconomic benefits from increasing infrastructure investment). I like to use real life examples in my write ups. Imagine (please leave magic mushrooms aside for now) John Mahama decides to pilot his 24-hour economy on road construction alone, to complete the Eastern Corridor road that continues to excite farmers, traders, exporters and manufacturers alike! One group of labourers, skilled machine operators, drivers of tipper trucks, graders, water tankers, forklift operators, fitters, site foremen, civil engineers, drainage experts, quantity surveyors, quality controllers, to name but a few would start a shift from say, 6am until 2pm, another set of the same professionals and other personnel will take over and continue from where the early shift left off until 10pm, and finally a third shift starts from 10pm until 6am. Don’t you think the road will be constructed 3 times faster? Is it likely demand for round-the-clock food sellers, security personnel, first aiders or emergency care professionals and a whole host of ancillary businesses will spring up around those road construction sites? Going on, do you realise a 24-hour economy will create *THREE TIMES AS MANY* jobs as the existing 8-hour shifts a day? Will those new employees be paid? Will they spend their new, previously non-existent income on other goods and services? Will that kick start economic activities that otherwise would not exist? Will the newly constructed road attract international traffic to and from Northern Togo, Burkina Faso and other landlocked countries that may use our expanded, more efficient ports? Are you with me still, Manasseh? Good if you are. Will all those new workers pay taxes on their earnings? Will that increase income for the treasury? Will that increased tax revenue allow government some additional room to invest in other aspects of the economy? Could unskilled labourers learn on-the-job to acquire new skills that would otherwise not happen? So you see the countless benefits of a 24-hour economy in just one sector of the construction industry? What if we continued constructing the stalled Mahama’s E-blocks and the abandoned regional hospitals?
One aspect of the 24-hour economy that has not yet been touched upon is education. Forget about education as you know it. If we make a conscious decision that we want to achieve 99% literacy rates in all adults who for some reason missed out on regular education and take advantage of existing language laboratories in our secondary and tertiary institutions outside normal school hours (say from 7pm to 11pm), would we be killing the proverbial two birds with one stone? You bet. Will the newly literate adults be able to contribute to economic activity in ways that they previously could not? Just think of the potential benefits of such a decision by government. Would there still be any qualified teachers lurking about without employment? Could that encourage some retired teachers to volunteer a few hours of their time in the evenings to keep their professional passions alive? Now let’s go one notch up. What if we decide to create Ghana’s Silicon Valley by bringing passionate people together to learn nothing but computing in their spare time after work or other engagements from 7pm to 11pm? First of all do you see that as a good idea, Manasseh? Secondly don’t you think with the creative brain power God has endowed Ghanaians with, we will start producing made in Ghana computer chips, mobile phones, tablets, scooters, solar panels, solar powered street lights, etc in no time at all? Could we also train more bricklayers, plumbers, tilers, electricians and other artisans?
You see the endless possibilities this policy could create in just two areas? I could go on and on and open your myopic mind but I will leave it at that for now and encourage you to learn to see your glass as half-full rather than half-empty. If you were doing the bidding of your friend Dr Mahmoud Bawumia to try and “punch holes” in Mahama’s 24-hour economy, you have failed miserably and should do proper thinking before publishing any more nonsense of the sort. Mahama’s 24-hour economy is viable and by far remains the one policy that will almost certainly breathe fresh oxygen into the comatose Nana Akufo-Addo - Bawumia economy and bring it back to life. I dare add that it will force much needed efficiency into the Ghanaian way of doing things and boost productivity, as a shift system will ensure targets are met and enhance competition in a positive way. Why do I say so? Each 8 hour shift will be given a minimum length of road to construct and if one shift continues to fall behind consistently they will be kicked out and a fresh team of workers sought. Will that enhance competition? Absolutely.
Author : Elijah Tiimob (Chairman, NDC East London Branch)