Child Online Africa (COA) joins its voice with others to wish all Africans a happy Africa Liberation Day. Today, May 25, is exactly 57 years since the Organization of African Unity (OAU) now African Union was founded.
On this day H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission declares in his speech- ‘I strongly urge women, youth, intellectuals, academics, politicians, entrepreneurs, and civil society activists, to engage in fruitful and active discussions on the issue, which is key to our material survival, our independence, our freedom and our dignity.’
Coincidentally, this year marks exactly 30 years since the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the now Africa Union adopted the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The Charter which was inspired by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has provisions made for children regarding their protection, provision and participation.
The Coronavirus pandemic has put all of us in a situation which was never anticipated. It is an undeniable fact that the Africa Union through its Committee on Children has been implementing the Africa Charter for children. However, although there have been attempts to protect children online yet very little or nothing is done to support their participation in the digital space. There is inadequate empirical evidence about the threats faced by children in Africa online, however, we can extrapolate from studies and reports in other parts of the world that the African Child is not immune to such risks. In this regard, COA would like to reiterate the Executive Council decision ( EX.CL/Dec 1017 (XXXiii) made by the Ministers of States in 2018 to the effect that the Committee scales up its work in safeguarding and promoting the rights and welfare of children in the cyberspaces: online safety, privacy and Digital Literacy and calls for the protection of the dignity of the African Child online. After 30 years, COA also calls for the review of the Charter in order to make it relevant for today and the future in the face of the ever-changing technological advancements and modus operandi of online predators as well as the current and growing needs of children in the digital space.
For the next 30 days, we have started a ‘Let Children Be Children’ (#LetChildrenBeChildren) campaign calling on parent, carers and even the young ones themselves to Be Alert (#KaaMacho) so that they are not exploited or abused while they learn, play or even connect with friends online.
Once again happy Africa Day!