ITU, Facebook and ACOPEA launch online safety project in Ethiopia

Blog-copITU has teamed up with Facebook to develop a pilot program to promote child online safety in Africa as part of its Child Online Protection (COP) initiative. The collaboration will enable the African Child Online Protection Education & Awareness Centre (ACOPEA), an NGO focused on African child online welfare, to implement a six-month pan-African e-safety awareness pilot program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The COP initiative at ITU has been collaborating with partners around the world to establish an international collaborative network for action to promote the online protection of children worldwide; to encourage the development of national Child Online Protection centers; and to organize awareness campaigns and community forums to create a safe environment for young users around the world.

The initiative is also counting on the efforts of global advocates that thanks to their tireless support and commitment are promoting the importance of a safer online world for children and young people:

-          H.E. Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica who became Patron of Child Online Protection (COP) in 2010;

-          Ms Deborah Taylor Tate, Former US Commissioner of the Federal Communication Commission, who became our Special Envoy for Child Online Protection, also in 2010; and

-          Dame Patience Jonathan, First Lady of Nigeria, who has recently been appointed as ITU Child Online Protection Champion.

In Africa Internet penetration, between 2009 and 2013, in households has grown fastest, with annual growth of 27%. Young citizens now have the possibility to enjoy greater opportunities for creativity, participation, and engagement with the world around them.

Yet, as the world witnesses rapid and unprecedented technological advances which have undoubtedly affected social behaviors, there are new risks to young people and new instances of online child abuse that continue to emerge on a global scale.

These global changes and potential dangers, have illustrated the need to raise awareness and promote COP. In response to this need, this pilot will deliver online safety education and awareness raising activities in align with the COP Initiative and explore mechanisms to protect the rights of young citizens in cyberspace.

The pilot’s initial deployment in Ethiopia will engage stakeholders at all levels—government agencies, industry, educators, civil society, and young people themselves—to work together and create a safe and empowering environment for young Internet users in the region.

The program will launch in September 2013 with a series of capacity building workshops for professionals from government agencies, industry, civil society, and educators. These workshops will focus on training the leaders who will in turn lead efforts to train other professionals, parents and young people about online safety issues.

In addition to these capacity building workshops, the partners will deliver awareness raising and training sessions to students from over 25 schools in Addis Ababa and its surrounding cities. These sessions will be run by educators with technical assistance from ITU and ACOPEA.

During the six-month pilot, child online safety activities in Ethiopia from past and present will be reviewed to establish a baseline for future efforts in promoting child online safety in Africa.

It is envisaged that this pilot will lead to greater engagement and collaboration among various stakeholders in the region who are working towards a safer and enabling environment for young digital citizens of Africa.

For more information on COP, visit http://www.itu.int/osg/csd/cybersecurity/gca/cop/.

As part of the ITU Global Youth Summit in Costa Rica, there will be a series of workshops streamed live that centre on COP under the theme “Be Smart, Be Safe”. Tune in live on Tuesday 10 September to watch or catch up later.

Time   (Costa Rica Local) Event
14.00pm An introduction to Be Smart, Be Safe with special guests Laura Chinchilla the President of Costa Rica, Dr Hamadoun Touré the ITU Secretary General, and Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan the First Lady of Nigeria
14.30pm Followed by several workshops run in partnership with several organizations:

  •   Train the Trainers (The Walt Disney Company) which will see young   leaders aged 18 – 25 being trained to teach younger children, aged 8 – 12 to   stay safe online.
  •   Be smart Be Safe video competition (ITU & UNICEF) which aims at developing video concepts around the themes of Cyberbullying; Self-exposure; Grooming & online reputation; Privacy and information protection
  •   SMART IT UP: Social Networking in a smart and safe way (Paniamor   Foundation and Microsoft Costa Rica) which will be aimed at generating   proposals for action regarding issues related to the practice of Digital Citizenship   for the youth of the world in the field of social networks.
18.00pm The day will end with a wrap up session of the Be Smart, Be Safe theme and the delivery of certificates of participation

Blog was co-written by:

carla-licciardelloCarla Licciardello is the Child Online Protection Focal Point of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), based in Geneva. She is primarily responsible for supporting ITU Child Online Protection activities, including project development with Member States and other international organizations. She is also working on Cybersecurity and supporting related interagency relations.

ashley-leeAshley Lee is a Junior Project Officer with the Corporate Strategy Division at the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva, where she supports the Child Online Protection Initiative and serves on the #BYND2015 Global Youth Summit Advisory Board. Her work focuses on the intersections of digital media, learning, and youth policy. You can follow her on Twitter @ashley_itu

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