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Yaw Nsarkoh: Some thoughts on Mahama’s 24-hour Economy

Yaw Nsarkoh: Some thoughts on Mahama’s 24-hour Economy

I have now been able to study the release put out on the above by the (National Democratic Congress) NDC Comms Bureau. I wish to be charitable here and view this as some sort of a preliminary release. But I can also say, if I were in charge of strategy, I would not have made the announcement on this policy at all at this stage. The release simply leaves me thinking the policy is not yet well-baked.

However, I am not a party politician involved in an electoral battle. I will never be. So I do not fully understand the considerations they make in their communications plans.

I am though, a man who worked as an engineer on night-shift, for 4.5 long years. It was tough but in retrospect, it was also where I learned some of the most useful things in management.

1. The release is disappointingly lacking in details and granularity about how Ghana’s productive forces will be developed to sustain a 24-hour economy. It requires radical transformation from where we are now to get to a 24-hour economy.

A country at GDP/capita/annum of less than $3,000, shooting for a 24-hour economy will require comprehensive, if not revolutionary, upgrades in its productive forces. The explanation of how this will be done should not be left to just a collection of nice words.

2. I did not find the prescriptions and projections fit into any known econometric model. As a result, we are left clueless about how this will be funded. What is required in capital injection?

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As an example, at the start of the Chinese Reforms, Deng Xiaoping had calculated that a minimum of $600 billion was going to be required to fund the 4 Modernisations programme. More than that, he was also aware that only $200 billion of that could be raised in China by China.

Necessarily, a major step for success, therefore, was for him to overcome the resistance of the Ultra-Left to any attempt to attract the participation of foreign capital. He did this. And then headed to the US for the famous 9-Day trip and convinced Jimmy Carter to grant China the Most Favoured Nation status, which helped open the doors for foreign capital to flow into China.

A de facto War General, Deng was on top of what he was doing on the strategy side. He refused to internationalise the financial side of China and only globalised trade.

To this day, the Chinese control the Renminbi, their local currency, and almost all Chinese banks are owned by the Chinese state. Land, crucially, is also owned by the state.

Additionally, China refused to become just a sub-contractor for the Metropole. They pursued a Sovereign project that meant that they retained significant learning on technology and R&D and primary science from everyone who entered their market.

While Samir Amin was with us, he never stopped stressing this. Will Mahama soon give us such an econometric model?

 3. In citing examples of 24-hour economies, USA, UK, Germany and France are listed. But the productive forces in these countries are significantly more developed than Ghana’s. How therefore will we bridge the gap? That should really be the question.

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As I said before, I have actually worked in a 24-hour ecosystem. It is not a walk-in-the-park to construct one. I do not quarrel with the ambition. But it requires creativity and very hard work to get it done. Or else, this too becomes another promise of a miracle that leads nowhere from Ghanaian politicians.

Hopefully, this Santa Claus season of electoral politics in Ghana, when Ghanaian politicians come bearing gifts and promises, the media will really ask the right questions. So we the people are not sold snake oil again. I saw a Bawumia sympathiser on a platform promising electric vehicles and so on, Man oh Man….! Here we go again…

Yaw Nsarkoh,

27 November 2023

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