With the deadly COVID-19 pandemic bringing to the fore the paramount significance of digitalisation, the 2nd General Assembly of the Digital Cooperation Organisation (DCO) has called for heightened collaboration between member countries to unlock the full growth of the global digital economy.
Presenting the joint ministerial declaration after the General Assembly in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, DCO’s Secretary General, Deemah AlYahya, said the pandemic accelerated the development and the growth of global digital economy and that the organization aspire to achieve what it described as “30 by 30” initiative, which is an ambitious future where the digital economy could contribute 30% of the global GDP and create 30 million jobs by 2030.
“This endeavor demands the collective effort of all stakeholders in the digital economy to attain the digital prosperity we aspire to,” she told journalists at a press conference.
“We, therefore, call for an open collaboration between all stakeholders to identify ways to maximize the social and economic benefits of digital transformation in the world while mitigating potential downsides,” she added.
DCO 2030 Roadmap
Recognizing the essential role of digital technologies in fostering inclusive and sustainable growth across formal and informal economies, the general assembly agreed to launch the DCO 2020 Roadmap which will among other things seek comprehensive solutions to the numerous barriers hindering the digital economy’s full potential, such as the digital divide, inadequate digital infrastructure, and the shortage of digital skills.
The Roadmap, according to the Secretary General, further seeks 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 private actors.
Its implementation is further expected to build regulatory frameworks and business environments that support innovation, entrepreneurship, investment, efficient data flow, and mobility of the digitally skilled workforce – among other growth levers – to increase opportunities for millions of people and businesses and accelerate the growth of the digital economy in a larger cross-border digital market, said the AlYahya.
“[The Roadmap will further] ensure the digital economy’s inclusiveness, fairness, and trustworthiness so its growth is sustainable, benefits all, and contributes to prosperity. The DCO will be recognized as the reference for empowering people and communities while advocating for a digital economy that respects Planetary Boundaries,” the General Secretary said.
Strengthening Cooperation through Improved Governance
Again, in their efforts to build an agile, efficient, and relevant organization, the Ministers and Government Representatives of 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.
They also established and elected The DCO Executive Committee mandated with the roles and responsibilities stipulated in the Bylaws with the inaugural members of the Committee being the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as Chair and the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, as members.
They further established the DCO Observers Committee as proposed by the Secretary-General to allow for the co-creation and co-design of joint initiatives between the Observers and Member States to drive greater Digital Prosperity for All.
Again, the General Assembly voted in favor of forming what it described as the STRIDE Association—an initiative expected play a pivotal role in catalyzing the growth of MSMEs and start-ups within and between Member States.
Given the above, His Excellency Mohamed bin Thamer Al Kaabi, Bahrain’s Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications and also the Chairperson of the DCO Governing Council, urged member states to seize the opportunity to work together to grasp the huge benefits that the digital transformation presents for economic transformation.
“I don’t think it’s a choice at the moment. Everybody has to work together if we want to progress and give their people a better life,” he said during the post General Assembly press conference.
And to drive forward this agenda, they agreed that the next General Assembly Meeting of the Digital Cooperation Organization will take place in December 2023 in the Kingdom of Bahrain, at which they will discuss the progress of the Organization and assess the impact of our joint initiatives in line with the DCO Strategic Roadmap 2030 to enable Digital Prosperity for All.
Accession of new member states
The DCO Council, meanwhile, formally announced the accession of two new Member States, the Republic of The Gambia and The Republic of Ghana. The Organization now represents 13 nations and serves around 600 million people with a collective GDP of more than USD 2 trillion.