Implementing a 24-hour economy


Several countries and cities worldwide operate a 24-hour economy to varying extents. While not every business in these locations operates around the clock, they often have many services, shops, and facilities available 24 hours a day. The list of some of the countries and cities known for their active 24-hour economies include:


China has developed a 24-hour economy in various ways, particularly in its major cities and economic hubs. Several factors drive a round-the-clock economy, including urbanization, economic growth, technological advancements, and changing consumer lifestyles. Some critical aspects of how China operates a 24-hour economy:

  • Urbanization and megacities: China’s rapid urbanization has led to the growth of megacities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. These cities house a large population with diverse needs and preferences, creating demand for services at all hours.
  • E-commerce and online services: The prevalence of e-commerce platforms, such as Alibaba and, has played a significant role in the 24-hour economy. Online shopping allows consumers to make purchases anytime, and delivery services operate around the clock to meet customer demands.
  • Nightlife and entertainment: Many Chinese cities have vibrant nightlife scenes with restaurants, bars, clubs, and entertainment venues open late into the night. This trend is particularly evident in popular districts and areas frequented by locals and tourists.
  • Transportation infrastructure: China’s extensive and efficient transportation infrastructure, including 24-hour public transportation systems in major cities, facilitates movement during unconventional hours. This accessibility supports a continuous flow of people and goods.

Shift in work culture: Certain industries, such as manufacturing and technology, operate around the clock to maximize efficiency and output.

  • Shift work and non-traditional working hours are becoming more common in various sectors.
  • Financial centers: China’s financial centers, such as the Shanghai Stock Exchange, operate during extended hours to align with global financial markets. Considering different time zones, a 24-hour economy ensures businesses can make financial transactions and investments anytime.
  • Service-oriented economy: China has been transitioning from a manufacturing-driven economy to a more service-oriented one. This shift has led to the proliferation of service-based businesses, including 24-hour convenience stores, healthcare services, and customer support centers.
  • Government support: The Chinese government has recognized the importance of a 24-hour economy in fostering economic growth. Policies supporting extended business hours, particularly in specific sectors, contribute to developing a more flexible and dynamic economic landscape.
  • Technology integration: Technology integration, such as mobile payment systems and smart infrastructure, has streamlined transactions and services, making it easier for businesses to operate outside traditional working hours.

While the 24-hour economy is more evident in major urban centers, the concept gradually spreads to smaller cities and towns. However, it’s important to note that the extent of the 24-hour economy can vary across different regions of China.

South Africa

South Africa has developed a 24-hour economy in certain areas, driven by urbanization, globalization, tourism, and changing consumer preferences. While the entire country may not operate on a 24-hour basis, certain cities and regions have embraced extended business hours and services. The key factors that contribute to how South Africa operates a 24-hour economy:

  • Urban centers: Cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban are major economic hubs with diverse industries. These urban centers have seen the development of a 24-hour economy, particularly in central business districts and popular commercial areas.
  • Tourism industry: South Africa is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from around the world. In response to the needs of tourists, certain areas have developed a vibrant nightlife with restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues staying open late.
  • Nightlife and entertainment: South Africa has a lively nightlife, especially in urban areas. A 24-hour economy includes various entertainment options such as nightclubs, theatres, and live music venues that operate into the early morning hours.
  • Hospitality sector: The hospitality industry, including hotels and accommodations, operates 24/7 to cater to the needs of both business and leisure travelers. This sector plays a crucial role in sustaining a 24-hour economy.
  • Retail and convenience stores: Some areas in urban centers have embraced the concept of 24-hour convenience stores, allowing residents and visitors to access essential goods and services at any time of the day or night.
  • Transportation infrastructure: Major airports, bus terminals, and train stations operate around the clock to facilitate the movement of people and goods. This is especially important in a country with a diverse geography and significant transportation needs.
  • Financial services: Certain financial institutions and services, such as ATMs, operate 24/7 to provide accessibility to banking services at any time. Financial services are crucial for both residents and the business community.
  • Security measures: The development of a 24-hour economy should have increased security measures to ensure the safety of businesses, employees, and consumers during extended hours.
  • Global business practices: South Africa’s participation in the global economy means that some businesses must align their operations with different time zones. Global Business Practices is particularly true in finance, where trading activities may occur outside standard working hours.
  • Shift work and industry practices: Certain industries, such as manufacturing and healthcare, may operate continuously, necessitating shift work and 24-hour production schedules.

Meanwhile, the 24-hour economy is more pronounced in certain areas and influenced by various factors, including local regulations, cultural norms, and economic considerations. It’s important to note that the extent of the 24-hour economy can vary across different regions within South Africa.

The United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has successfully developed a thriving 24-hour economy, particularly in major cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This transformation is driven by a combination of factors, including economic diversification, tourism, globalization, and a strategic approach to business development. The key aspects of how the UAE operates a 24-hour economy include:

  • Tourism and Hospitality:The UAE is a major global tourist destination, attracting visitors for business and leisure. In response to the diverse needs of tourists, the hospitality industry in cities like Dubai operates 24/7. Hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues offer round-the-clock services to cater to a global clientele.
  • Business hubs: Dubai and Abu Dhabi are major international business hubs. To accommodate global business operations and transactions across different time zones, many businesses and financial institutions in the UAE operate beyond traditional working hours.
  • Free zones: The UAE has established numerous free zones, such as Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), which operate with flexible working hours to attract international businesses. These zones contribute significantly to the 24-hour economy by providing an environment conducive to continuous business activities.
  • Retail and shopping: Dubai is renowned for its extravagant shopping malls and souks or traditional markets, many of which operate extended hours, especially during weekends. The presence of numerous convenience stores, supermarkets, and retail outlets supports the concept of 24-hour shopping.
  • Transportation infrastructure: The UAE has invested heavily in modern and efficient transportation infrastructure. Major airports like Dubai International Airport operate 24/7 to facilitate international travel, and public transportation services, such as the Dubai Metro, run extended hours to accommodate the needs of residents and tourists.
  • Smart city initiatives: Dubai, in particular, has embraced smart city initiatives, integrating technology to enhance efficiency and convenience. Smart City Initiatives include smart services for government transactions, online shopping, and mobile payment systems that facilitate 24-hour business operations.
  • Free Wi-Fi zones: The UAE has established free Wi-Fi zones in many public areas, promoting connectivity and enabling people to work, shop, or access services online anytime.
  • Nightlife and entertainment: The UAE, especially Dubai, has a vibrant nightlife with numerous bars, clubs, and entertainment venues that operate late into the night. Nightlife and Entertainment contribute to a 24-hour social and recreational environment.
  • Security measures: The UAE strongly emphasizes safety and security, with measures in place to ensure the well-being of residents and visitors during extended hours. This contributes to a conducive environment for a 24-hour economy.
  • Global connectivity: The UAE’s strategic geographical location and excellent air connectivity make it ideal for businesses looking to operate globally. This global connectivity supports a 24-hour economy by facilitating international trade and business interactions.

In summary, the UAE’s 24-hour economy results from a strategic combination of economic policies, tourism initiatives, technological advancements, and a business-friendly environment, collectively contributing to a dynamic and continuously operating economic landscape.

How Ghana can easily roll out 24-hour economy?

Rolling out a 24-hour economy in Ghana involves a strategic and holistic approach considering various sectors, stakeholders, and infrastructure. Several vital steps that can be taken to facilitate the establishment of a 24-hour economy in Ghana:

Assessment and planning:

  • Conduct a comprehensive assessment of existing businesses and services to identify sectors with the potential for extended hours.
  • Develop a strategic plan outlining the goals, key sectors, and phased implementation of a 24-hour economy.

Legislation and regulation:

  • Review and update relevant laws and regulations to support extended business hours.
  • Create incentives for businesses outside traditional working hours, including tax breaks or regulatory advantages.

Promote investment:

  • Encourage investment in key sectors that can thrive in a 24-hour economy, such as hospitality, Entertainment, and information technology.
  • Facilitate the establishment of 24-hour businesses through business-friendly policies and incentives.

Infrastructure development:

  • Improve transportation infrastructure, ensuring that public transportation is available 24/7 to facilitate the movement of people and goods.
  • Enhance digital infrastructure, including high-speed internet and reliable power supply, to support online services and e-commerce.

Public safety measures:

  • Implement and enhance security measures to ensure the safety of businesses, workers, and consumers during extended hours.
  • Collaborate with law enforcement agencies to create a secure environment conducive to a 24-hour economy.

Tourism and hospitality:

  • Develop and promote tourism initiatives to attract visitors and increase demand for 24-hour services.
  • Encourage the hospitality industry to expand services, including restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues, to operate around the clock.

Technology integration:

  • Promote technology for digital transactions, mobile payments, and online services, making it easier for businesses to operate beyond traditional hours.
  • Implement smart city initiatives to enhance efficiency and connectivity.

Education and awareness:

  • Conduct awareness campaigns to educate businesses and the public about the benefits and opportunities of a 24-hour economy.
  • Provide training programs for businesses to adapt to extended operating hours.

Collaboration with stakeholders:

  • Engage with key stakeholders, including businesses, labour unions, and local communities, to garner support and address concerns.
  • To ensure a coordinated and inclusive approach, foster collaboration between the government, private sector, and civil society.

Pilot programme:

  • Initiate pilot programs in specific regions or sectors to test the feasibility and impact of a 24-hour economy.
  • Use the lessons learned from pilot programs to refine the implementation strategy on a larger scale.

Flexible working arrangements:

  • Encourage businesses to adopt flexible working arrangements, including shift and remote work, to support continuous operations.

By combining these strategies, Ghana can gradually transition to a 24-hour economy, fostering economic growth, creating employment opportunities, and improving the overall quality of life for Ghanaians. Successful implementation will require collaboration, adaptability, and a commitment to creating an environment that supports continuous economic activity.


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