The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has said that the Commission is coming up with an awareness project which is aimed at sensitising the Nigerian child on the safe use of the Internet.
Danbatta affirmed in an opening remark at a joint workshop on child online protection which started on Tuesday October 15, 2019.
The workshop was organised by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in collaboration with the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI). The DBI is a training institute established by the NCC in 2004 and an ITU Centre of Excellence to bridge the skills gap in the Nigerian telecom sector.
Danbatta stated that the Internet has become an indispensable element of everyday life and children are not excluded but particularly vulnerable to its disadvantages because young persons constitute the largest users of the Internet.
“Subsequently, as a result of the ubiquitous availability of Internet access in homes, schools, libraries, mobile phones and so on, children are increasingly becoming involved in the use of new technological applications and taking advantage of the opportunity they provide for learning, research, and entertainment,” he said.
The EVC explained that as a follow-up to several initial efforts made in adopting the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) guidelines on Child Online Protection, the Commission developed a draft Nigerian Child Online Protection Policy (NCOPP).
The EVC said the NCOPP will be further reviewed taking into consideration the evolving global technology and practices in the cyber space as well as develop the revised National Child Online Protection document which will comprise of a Policy, Strategy and Action Plan.
Danbatta further stated that the sensitisation campaign the Commission is embarking on seeks to, amongst other things, enhance safety online so Nigerian children can competitively engage one another in productive and guided interactions, enable the provision of a safe and secured cyber space for Nigerian digital citizens, along with promoting positive use and experience from the Internet for children and young people, as well as provide regional advocacy and awareness for Nigerian Child Online Protection Policy and recommend safety measures.
The sensitisation campaign will also provide regional awareness incorporating local languages and cultural norms; share knowledge and experience while facilitating international strategic partnerships to define and implement concrete initiatives as well as increase the understanding of child online safety among government, industry, educators and civil society organisations.
Odunayo Sanya, General Manager, Planning and Customer Management, MTN, a partner in organising the workshop, emphasise the necessity to balance the benefits of the Internet with pitfalls. She charged parents, regulators, service providers and government to work earnestly and collaboratively to achieve that.
“Understanding how to traverse the potential pitfalls online and shield our children from cybercrime are critical skills today, much less for the future workforce. To be successful in securing future success, government, regulators, service providers, and parent teachers associations need to work together to create the much-needed controls, awareness, and education for the protection of our children online,” Sanya said.
She added the workshop aligns with MTN Nigeria’s clear corporate development focus especially in the area of promotion of safe online space for children and the long-term interest in the success of Nigeria’s next generation of tech and business leaders.
Similarly, Grace Ketefe, representative of the CeCe Yara Foundation set up for the protection of children in the Northern Nigeria, said “With what NCC and its partners are doing, it is possible for Nigeria to save, at least, 16 million Nigerians children from being defiled or otherwise abused offline and in the cyber space.”