The third edition of the African Telecommunication Union (ATU) and Child Online Africa (COA) Africa Week of Action for Child Online Protection (AWA4COP) is here. Running under the theme: Making the Internet Safer for the African Child, it will focus on creating awareness among African countries on how stakeholders could contribute to making the Internet better for ALL. This is intended to run for 4 years to enable ATU/COA explore all available opportunities to thoroughly engage stakeholders across board to contribute and guarantee that the African child’s well-being is safeguarded both online and offline. This week of action running from today 6th through to the 11th of June 2022 will be climaxed with the Day of the African Child organized by the African Union.
The Child Online Protection (COP) Initiative is a multi-stakeholder network launched by the International Telecommunication Union (a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for all matters related to information and communication technologies) It brings together children, parents and educators, as well as stakeholders in the ICT industry and policymakers, to create a safe and empowering online experience for children and young people around the world.
As we prepare to observe the Day of the Africa Child (#DAC2022) the African Telecommunications Union, Child Online Africa and partners deem it necessary to bring the attention of all the need to mainstream digital safety in offline programmes while discussing strategies to make the Internet Safer for African children. Numerous reports such as this example show the abuse of the African child is on the rise: “One of my friends had a friend on Facebook and asked her to [snap a] naked [picture of] herself and send [it] to him. Because she did not do [what he asked], he ended up videoing himself and sent her a nude video. Because she blocked [him] . . . he ended up writing bad things about her on Facebook and photoshopped her picture on a nude form. (Jessica)”- World Vision International 2020.
As enshrined in the Aspiration 7 of the Agenda 2040, we as Africans have a duty of care to protect, provide and empower the African Child to participate in the Digital environment without being subjected to any form of abuse.
For this year’s edition therefore, Child Online Africa and African Telecommunication Union are urging African countries to take a second look at the Aspiration 7 of the Agenda 2040:” Every child is protected against violence, exploitation, neglect and abuse.” with a special focus on virtual abuse while acting on Child Online Protection Guidelines as a solid foundation on which Governments can develop inclusive, multi-stakeholder national strategies for online child protection.
We call on every stakeholder in addition to last year’s recommendations to join the speed race of the world to educate young people about the potential harms of the online world. A race to keep predators away from our children. It is the race of care to ensure regulations are aligned with the threat; that as they allow for evolutions and revolutions in technology they safeguard the rights of every digital citizen.
Together we can make the African Child Benefit from technology which is free from harm.