Have you heard or read about the new topic for discussion? I am talking about the proposal by former president John Dramani Mahama, the flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), to usher in a 24-hour economy to reinvigorate Ghana’s economy in 2025, if reelected into power.
According to him, the 24-hour economy will be voluntary and not imposed. Businesses will be encouraged to sign up to enjoy tax incentives and lower electricity tariffs for working after peak hours.
Although members of the NDC and some sections of the public applaud the motion and describe it as a game-changer, it does not seem to sit well with members of the ruling New Patriotic Party and another division of the populace. The opponents believe that Ghana needs a digital economy as against the 24-hour economy.
The presidential elections will happen in December 2024, barring unforeseen circumstances.
I think that both types of economy can work hand-in-hand.
However, here is my submission on the difference between the 24-hour economy and the digital economy:
A 24-hour economy is straightforwardly a master plan that comprises setting up a course of action to guarantee the smooth operation of businesses both at night and during the day on all parts of the financial system. Put differently, people can access goods and services in the morning, afternoon, and night.
This type of economy exists in developed nations. In Sydney, Michael Rodrigues, the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner, explores what it means to build a 24-hour economy through a series of interviews with the best and brightest across industry and government. He said, “The Strategy focuses on actions that will extend the productivity of Sydney’s day-time economy into the night — to allow businesses and consumers, councils and community groups to keep the lights on beyond the traditional business day”.
London First is an independent business membership organisation whose mission is to make London the best place in the world in which to do business.
Defining the economic value of London’s 24-hour economy in one of its reports, London First highlighted, “London represents up to 40% of the £66bn estimate for the total UK night-time economy. 5 Once multiplier impacts are included, the overall contribution of London’s night-time economy is just over £40 billion. This economic activity directly supports 723,000 jobs – one in eight in the capital”.
The 24-hour economy has more to do than just talk about bars, restaurants, noise, alcohol, and merry-making.
Why do we need a 24-hour economy in Ghana?
It is a source of new jobs and income for the country. It allows the revivification of areas and buildings in the cities, especially those that are not used after a certain hour of the day. There is a perception that streets and cities filled with people in the morning or at night feel safer than the ghost ones. The policy invites people to stay outside their homes to make the cities lively. Workers can travel to and from work anytime knowing that access to public transportation is assured. A vibrant but safe nightlife is attractive for visitors.
What must the government do to set the seal on the 24-hour economy?
The public should be educated about it and security agencies must make their presence felt, particularly in areas that are hotbeds for crimes. Criminal activities should be nipped in the bud swiftly.
On the other hand, a digital economy refers to the activities performed for payment or profit, including the production of goods and services that materialise from linking individuals, businesses, devices, and data, and working through computer-generated technology. It surrounds the networked connections and transactions that happen covering multiple sectors and technologies, such as the internet, mobile technology, information and communication technology, and big data.
Some of the key benefits of the digital economy include the expansion of business opportunities, the creation of new employment opportunities, the enhancement of public services, and the rapid rise of E-commerce. Consumers can buy digital goods and services from the comfort of their homes. Businesses can use data to understand customer behaviour and boost operational efficiencies. Cloud computing and digital frameworks obliterate the need for considerable physical infrastructure and capital expenditures, validating organisations to scale up and down if necessary. Businesses can deliver quick responses to queries through digital channels and chatbots.
The digital economy has its dark side.
Threats such as data breaches, cyber-attacks, and unauthorised access to private records can lead to financial losses, identity theft, and various inauspicious outcomes. Automation and digitalisation sometimes displace jobs and render some roles redundant. People might need to acquire new skills for employment. Small businesses will need help to compete with bigger brands as they may need to be financially sound to build safe digital platforms and carry out massive sales and marketing campaigns. Some people do not have access to the internet and technology while others do; this variance can result in inequalities regarding access to information, education, employment opportunities, and economic advancement.
Be it as it may, Ghanaians must be dispassionate in discussing these two relevant topics, which, when properly executed, can lead to a massive transformation of the Ghanaian economy.
In doing this, however, Ghana should be the priority
The writer, Victor Yao Nyakey, is a journalist, business developer, and education consultant