The Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO), the international organization to promote digital prosperity for all, has successfully concluded its second General Assembly in Riyadh with a Ministerial Declaration calling for open collaboration among nations to bridge the digital divide.
The DCO Ministerial Call for Action, which was issued on behalf of all 13 Member States, recognized the crucial role that the digital economy plays in shaping a more equitable and thriving future, and called for increased international dialogue to identify and promote successful approaches, and impactful initiatives that will empower nations to create sustainable, inclusive and equitable growth of the digital economy.
The General Assembly, the first full in-person gathering of the DCO, brought together delegation(s) from the DCO member states, DCO observer partners, and other international stakeholders in the digital economy. The Assembly was also attended by H.E. Zunaid Ahmed Palak, Minister of State for Information and Communication Technology, People’s Republic of Bangladesh; and H.E Mohammd Almanni, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, State of Qatar, as guests of the DCO.
The DCO calls for international cooperation to coordinate efforts and develop sustainable solutions that are specifically tailored to address four major concerns; such as policies and regulations, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Digitalization, Digital Skills and Education, and Digital Transformation.
H.E. Ms. Deemah Al Yahya, Secretary-General of the DCO, said: “There is an urgent need to modernize and harmonize digital policies and regulations, support MSMEs, take advantage of the cross-border nature of the digital economy and reduce barriers to access new markets, grow and create new opportunities”.
“Presently, around 36% of the world’s population, or approximately 2.7 billion people, do not have access to the internet. This substantial divide separates those with the means and abilities to participate in the digital economy from those without. We must take collective action to unleash the full potential of the digital age by equipping everyone with the digital skills they need. This can be through a combination of formal education systems, informal training programs, and civil society initiatives that promote continuous learning and upskilling. We must invest in building and enhancing digital skills and reap the rewards for generations to come,” Al Yahya added.
The one-day General Assembly included several strategic announcements around the expansion of the DCO and aligning the organization to accelerate its mission in the future.
Two new Member States, the Republic of The Gambia and the Republic of Ghana, were welcomed to the DCO during the Assembly, as the DCO continues its expansion into Africa to empower nations to develop their digital economies.
The DCO adopted the new Organization Bylaws that will streamline the operations of the Organization and effectively supersede the previously approved Governance Guidebook of 2021.
The DCO approved the formation of a new initiative to empower MSMEs: the STRIDE Association. This initiative will play a pivotal role in catalyzing the growth of MSMEs and start-ups within and between Member States. In addition, the Association will act as a facilitator between the public and the private sectors to make available the needed insights and interventions.
Recognizing the importance of ensuring continuity and efficiency of the DCO’s operations, the Assembly approved the establishment of an Executive Committee, consisting of representatives from the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Sultanate of Oman, with a representative from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the Chairperson until 2030. The committee will help streamline decision-making at DCO.
The DCO also announced the formation of an Observer Committee. Observer Partners, including the private sector, intergovernmental organizations, academic institutions, and other stakeholders in the digital economy, are an essential part of the DCO, and the Observer Committee is intended to increase the impact that Observers can bring to the DCO and ensure that they have a voice in DCO dialogues.
The Ministers and Government Representatives of the Digital Cooperation Organization agreed to launch the DCO 2030 Roadmap to promote common interests and advocate for advanced cooperation on all aspects of the digital economy at local, regional, and global levels between countries and all other stakeholders of the digital economy, including the private sector.
DCO Member States have expressed their gratitude to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its dedication and visionary approach to establishing the Organization and for the accomplishments achieved during the Saudi Arabia presidency.
In line with the Charter of the DCO, it was announced that the Kingdom of Bahrain is appointed to the Presidency of the DCO for 2023 and will chair the organization for the coming year and host the next edition of the General Assembly. In 2024, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was endorsed for the DCO presidency for 2024.