OneWeb’s smart city JV to join 600m-member digital group

OneWeb’s smart city JV to join 600m-member digital group


Satellite company OneWeb has joined an organisation that promotes digital services across 13 countries in the Middle East and Africa.

OneWeb, which operates a global low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite network, has not become a full member of the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO), but it has observer status via a joint venture it has with Neom, the giant Saudi smart city project.

Deemah AlYahya (pictured), secretary-general of the DCO, said: “The lack of reliable and effective internet connectivity is one of the biggest challenges facing communities and businesses around the world. Without connectivity, it is almost impossible for nations to create and leverage inclusive digital economies that benefit all.”

The DCO was founded in November 2020 to promote digital prosperity. It now includes 13 member states representing a population of over 600 million. The first meeting was in 2021, when Nigeria became the seventh member.

AlYahya is computer scientist and a digital economy adviser in Saudi Arabia. A decade ago founded Women Spark, the first women-led angel investment group in the country, with the aim of educating and training women to be angel investors and entrepreneurs.

Neom, OneWeb’s partner in the DCO, is a vast smart city project in the north western Tabuk Province that will rely on 5G and internet of things (IoT) services.

AlYahya said: “Low earth orbit constellations can deliver high-performance satellite connectivity services across underserviced areas and will play an important role in overcoming the connectivity gap. We look forward to sharing OneWeb’s experience and knowledge in our efforts to enable digital prosperity for all.”

The agreement was ratified by the DCO member states.

Laith Hamad, CEO of the OneWeb Neom JV, said: “Through membership of the DCO, this JV between OneWeb and Neom will work collectively with member countries and other partners to leverage our low Earth orbit constellation to help bridge the digital divide across the DCO member states.”

Members of the DCO include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco and Pakistan.

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