A 24-hour economy policy – celebration of mediocrity?


By Emmanuel Owusu Agyei AMPEM

My friend Charlotte of ENI has always been arguing; and she talks to me about climate change and its effects on modern economies. She has been so passionate about it that she tells me how her application to join the just-ended COP 28 was rejected because she works for ENI that specialises in oil and gas exploration and production.

Last night, she told me that at the just-ended summit, many African countries say they deserve to exploit their natural resources and develop just like the richer countries – which I admirably support. I pointed out to her that the West has always wished to kick away development strategies they used, as the famous writer Ha-Joon Chang puts it in his book ‘Kicking Away the Ladder’.

In our recent conversation, she was pained because she could not join the protest ‘Occupy Julorbi House’ in Accra demanding better economic growth in Ghana; she just didn’t agree with me that most of these protests are politically influenced, especially leading to elections. But I agree that demonstrations add spice to the development of democracy because it was a Tunisian fruit vendor, Mohammed Bouazizi, who lit himself on fire to protest the arbitrary expropriation of his goods and his economic future in Tunisia.

Within weeks Bouaziz’s act of self-immolation precipitated the Arab Spring revolution, and that sprang protests throughout the Middle East. In recent times, we have seen protests shake South America, Eastern Europe and Africa. We simply cannot overlook the rising political anxiety on the continent of Africa.

This week, I came across a flyer advertising a political walk organised by Ghana’s primary opposition party, focusing on their key initiative, the ‘24-hour economy’. The surprising aspect for me was the decision to centre an entire political event around a specific policy proposal. I couldn’t help but wonder about the rationale behind conducting a walk solely dedicated to a policy initiative.

Perhaps there’s more to be revealed and I am open to hearing a compelling explanation for this particular proposal. I expect that this initiative has the potential to steer Ghana away from reliance on the IMF, address issues of income inequality, and generate essential employment opportunities for the nation’s youth.

I have had different stances on party manifestoes delivering economic growth to Ghana and on top of its policies like these. I like Dr. Moi Thompson because aspiring policy and economics students look up to him, looking at his great work at the National Development Planning Commission. I believe his idea because it was originally proposed in the 40-year national development plan to address unemployment in Ghana, paying critical attention to technology, three shifts of 8 hours each and 4 shifts of 6 hours each.

A 24-hour economy is possible in Ghana, there is nothing that cannot be achieved under the sun and that has been a conviction for years. But you see, across the globe, there has been a waiving political anxiety even in developed countries because policies are failing to deliver economic growth and that is contributing to the decline in democratic principles. If in our current state as a country, the policy that needs a walk is a 24-hour economy proposal then where is the light? Is there a hope that our policies will deliver growth other than desperation?

Do you need to make this a flagship policy for economic growth? Is this something that must be imposed? In developing economies, didn’t they have a 24-hour economy organically generated? Must a government make 24-hour economy a flagship programme to deliver food on the table to Ghanaians? Must we applaud you for this thought? I have heard a communication officer mention that the policy has an implementation strategy and that it is going to work. In policy implementation, there is always a working document but at the analysis, we see its failures.

In places where there is a 24-hour economy operating, there is a working environment that necessitates success. A 24-hour economy in theory will deliver job creation, technological advancements, improvement in infrastructure and transportation, and promote global connectivity – but these are organically done.

When you have more industries, a stable economy, a conditioned environment to promote policy growth, great digital economy you will have a 24-hour economy organically. The cities of Detroit, Memphis, Michigan, Osaka, Tokyo and the rest didn’t have to develop a policy and a political walk with campaigns to have a 24-hour economy. The mediocrity is failing to develop economic growth in our country.

As Dambisa Moyo writes, growth is imperative for our democratic development; we need democracy to work. Let’s propose great and better policies that will deliver people from poverty like the Asian tigers, and let us not celebrate mediocrity.

On December 7, 2000, as my grandma recalls, millions of Ghanaians formed lines that stretched for miles to participate in a democratic process with smiles on their faces as a call for action to deliver jobs and growth. Today we see pensions, real estate, banking, insurance, investments, and the education of over 1.8 million students who benefitted from policies as a result of a political process. We are an aspiring society; let us not celebrate and applaud mediocrity!

>>>the writer is currently based in Columbia, Missouri

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