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Global connectivity, facilitated by advancements in communication and information technologies, has a profound impact on the global economy. The interconnectedness of economies, businesses, and individuals around the world through various communication channels plays a crucial role in shaping economic activities, trade, innovation, and overall economic development.

Global connectivity allows businesses to access markets beyond their borders, enabling international trade and the exchange of goods and services on a global scale. Companies can reach customers worldwide, fostering economic growth and diversification. Global supply chains heavily rely on efficient communication networks. Real-time information exchange and coordination among suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors are essential for optimizing supply chain efficiency and reducing costs.

The Future of Global Connectivity

The future of global connectivity and the communications sector is expected to be shaped by ongoing technological advancements, the proliferation of high-speed internet, the deployment of advanced networks, and the emergence of new communication technologies. Several trends and developments point towards an increasingly interconnected and technologically-advanced global communications landscape.

While terrestrial communication systems are well-established and provide high-speed communication, there are geographical limitations and they are vulnerable to factors like natural disasters or human-made disruptions. Contrastingly, non-terrestrial communication (which includes satellite communication, deep-space communication, and other space-based communication technologies), has the advantage of global coverage; including remote and inaccessible regions, and scalability to cover larger areas or to accommodate more users.  Companies like SpaceX (Starlink), OneWeb, and Amazon (Project Kuiper) are working on deploying mega-constellations of satellites to provide high-speed broadband internet services globally.

The Importance of the Space Economy

The space economy is important to many countries for several reasons, and its significance has been growing as technological advancements make space activities more accessible. Space activities drive technological innovation. The challenges of space exploration and utilization lead to the development of cutting-edge technologies that often have applications beyond space missions. These innovations can significantly advance various industries, including telecommunications, healthcare, agriculture, and manufacturing.

Space assets play a crucial role in national security and defense. Satellites provide essential capabilities for communication, navigation, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Countries with robust space capabilities can better monitor and secure their territories. Space is no longer a restricted domain for governments and defense companies. GlobalData and Morgan Stanley project the value of the space economy to reach USD 1 trillion by 2040. The global wireless connectivity market size was valued at around USD 71.60 billion in 2022. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15.06% and is anticipated to reach USD 219.86 billion by 2030. Businesses that pursue emerging opportunities now may gain a first-mover advantage.

Investing in Space-Related Research

Investment in research and innovation in space-related and telecommunications technologies is a key component of Saudi Vision 2030 as part of its economic diversification efforts. SCIT (Space Communication for Information Technology) Group is a Saudi-established investment fund targeting global investments in disruptive technologies, with a clear focus on aviation and aerospace technologies. With a focus on global connectivity, our aviation and aerospace sector is analyzing how the overall global aviation and avionics industry connects our skies to drive the transformation and growth of the aviation passenger’s experience.

In late 2019, a significant move was made by acquiring direct equities in a notable European startup, SKYFive AG, based in Munich, Germany. This startup originated as a spin-out from Nokia. SKYFive AG owns the key patents, necessary to offer high-speed data for airlines; leapfrogging the current satellite service experience levels and offloading heavy data traffic from the satellite toward the Air2Ground networks.

With the successful launch of the European Aviation Network (EAN), SCIT decided to replicate the EAN success in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. This was achieved by partnering with SKYFive AG to create MENA's new aviation service provider, SKYFive Arabia. This strategy involved directly accessing the aviation consumer segment by monetizing the service through a B2B2C commercial model. It also entailed gradually exploring potential growth opportunities in areas such as eBusiness, digital content, and value-added services in the aviation sector.

Additionally, our group investment and strategy team are assessing other active collaborative programs with key research and academia centers in Saudi Arabia and the region. In addition to the potential acquisition of planned equities, there are considerations for investments in startups and firms of various sizes, with specialization in domains like quantum and space communications, LEO satellites, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence.

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