RIYAD: The Digital Cooperation Organization has expanded to include Rwanda as the eighth member state, with DCO now representing around half a billion people.
Deemah Al-Yahya, secretary general of the DCO, told Arab News that the organization, which also includes Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan and Nigeria, “has brought together with the intention of digitally transforming and joining in to thrive and exploit the opportunities of (the) digital economy.
Paula Ingabire, Rwandan Minister of Information, Communication Technologies and Innovation, welcomed this announcement.
“Joining the DCO is an opportunity to be part of (the) platform and a larger network through which we will build global partnerships, in the public and private sectors, including startups, that will deliver a digital economy inclusive for Rwanda, ”she said.
The DCO is a multilateral organization that aims to promote the growth of the digital economy through collaboration among its members, created in November 2020 by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain and Pakistan. Nigeria and Oman joined as additional founding members earlier this year.
Al-Yahya said digital progress is crucial for the transformation of countries. “DCO is more economical, an organization that focuses on productivity and on people’s lives,” she said. “Therefore, Rwanda’s membership means that they are open to change. They are now with the advancement they have from a digital perspective and their tech-savvy youth. “
She said this would benefit not only Rwanda internally, but other members as well. “They are now going through a huge digital transformation. I think it’s a very useful opportunity for other countries to experience this.
According to the DCO, Rwanda has prioritized digital economy policies through Rwanda’s Smart Rwanda master plan and national information and communication infrastructure strategies.
Earlier this month, the Rwandan government announced the Kigali Innovation City, which is expected to serve as a technology and innovation hub for Africa. Rwanda also announced a $ 100 million project to increase access to broadband and certain digital public services, and to strengthen the digital innovation ecosystem. These projects will also support the development of Rwanda’s digital talent base, especially for young people, in line with the government’s national digital talent policy.
The announcement builds on the significant progress of the DCO, which has so far confirmed five global initiatives to support policymakers, youth, women and entrepreneurs.
Al-Yahya, known for her expertise in the digital economy, said people need to think about the impact more than anything else. “Remove these borders and create this borderless environment for our young people to find opportunities. Imagine that one-click digital innovation could expand and serve the Pakistani people or serve the Nigerian people. However, these are technologies that our societies need.
“Let’s open up more opportunities to make these technologies available to our countries. We aim, in DCO, to do so, and we hope that with our expansion plans, we will attract more countries and private sectors to join us, ”she added.
According to Al-Yahya, the DCO is one of the outcomes of the Saudi G20 presidency. The organization aims to develop a world where every government, business and individual has a fair chance to prosper in the digital age.
The DCO offers companies, startups and entrepreneurs access to new markets. Many of the organization’s initiatives are designed to increase digital literacy and inclusion among groups often affected by the digital divide.
“We are very proud to create an equitable space for governments to work closely with the ecosystem, which is the private sector, academia, financial institution think tanks, to co-create and co-design with the ‘intention to create a borderless environment for prosperity,’ Al-Yahya said.
One of the problems mentioned by the Secretary General facing the DCO is the speed of technological progress.
Regarding the participation of women, Al-Yahya confirmed that women are at the heart of the organization, saying: “We aim to advance (the) digital economy for our member countries, and also to create the right ones. opportunities for young people and women. “
She mentioned that one of the first initiatives launched for women was the Observatory for Digital Empowerment. “We make sure it is actually implemented on the ground. It alarms me when I read reports that by 2030, 350 million women will not have access to the Internet. It is not only a social loss, but also an economic loss. “
Al-Yahya explained that giving women the opportunity to connect to the world will turn women from job seekers to job creators. “At DCO, we see women and young people as the core. We represent a population of half a billion people; 270 million are young people under 25. The opportunities are therefore enormous, and all are tech-savvy… Imagine the number of young people who are taking them from the status of consumer to that of producer to technology.
Sharing words of wisdom, Al-Yahya advised the young people to take the opportunity and focus on their current position.
“First, seize the opportunity, look at the opportunities for each challenge. Second, you should give it all you have … When you focus on where you are right now, it will take you to the next step, and then you can accomplish.