Protecting children online should be top of nations’ agenda – CSO urges

Children and their wellbeing within the cyberspace space should be classified among a country’s critical infrastructure and given as much attention as all others, the Executive Director of Child Online Africa, Awo Aidam Amenyah, has said to African leaders.

According to her, communication is one of the most important aspects of our lives, and the relevance of the celebration of the World Telecommunications Information Society Day (WTISD) cannot be overemphasised – especially when the novel coronavirus has proven ICT to be the key lifeline for our survival.

“Child Online Africa (COA), on the occasion of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) 2020, wishes to remind all African leaders of their role in keeping to the Executive Council decision ( EX.CL/Dec 1017 (XXXiii) made by the Ministers of States at the 2018 Summit – requesting the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and welfare of the Child (ACERWC) to scale up its work in safeguarding and promoting the rights and welfare of children in the cyberspace: online safety, privacy and Digital Literacy. This request aligns well with the theme for the celebration, ‘Connect 2030: ICTs for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’.

In a statement issued by COA, it reminded and encouraged all stakeholders, especially in Africa, to note Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden’s words: “This is the time to do everything in our power to keep children safe online. The virus knows no borders, and online perpetrators respect no borders. Therefore, we need to work together across borders; making sure that the recommendations which have been developed are turned into concrete action is one very good way to start”.

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COA believes a deliberate decision to work with the tenets of the Child Online Protection strategy and other relevant frameworks and protocols will go a long way in creating a safe and trustworthy online environment for the African child

The UN theme ‘Connect 2030: ICTs for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’ highlights the ICT advances for transition to smart and sustainable development. It will focus on specific ICT-enabled solutions and emerging trends for fostering economic, environmental and social sustainability.

The Connect 2030 agenda is a shared global vision for development of the telecommunication/ICT sector under its five strategic goals – Growth, Inclusiveness, Sustainability, Innovation and Partnership. The SDGs recognise that the spread of information and communications technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress and bridge the digital divide.

The purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities which use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide. May 17 marked the anniversary of signing the first International Telegraph Convention and creation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

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