Zambia commits to protect children from online abuse through National Child Online Protection Policy

With the advent of technology, the increase in usage of the internet is something that the times and the advancement demand. As an important part of the developmental and growth process of an economy, technology paves way for invaluable opportunities for the people of the nation to learn, socialise, communicate, develop expertise and use their skills to contribute towards the further development of the economy.

However, at this time when digitisation makes a way better move towards the growth and success of a nation, it also lays grounds for increased opportunities and a scope of new capabilities of being misused by the offenders, in the form of digital sexual abuse of children in the form of child prostitution, child pornography and lot more. All of this is the most devastating form of torture that a child has to go through, leaving the worst impact on them for their entire life, the scars of which the young souls carry throughout their lives. Non-Aligned Movement, the 120-nations organisation, has always maintained its stature as a body to help its Member States lead on to the path of development and protect its citizens from severe risks and threats. The organisation strives for an overall development of every single individual in the society by giving a hard time to the challenges facing it.

Over the years, the internet usage in Africa by children has increased which makes it important for the continent at protecting the children from internet risks and threats. Zambia, a country in East Africa, where the increasing availability of internet has been made available by MNOs and Internet service providers ISPs, has witnessed an unprecedented rise in usage across the country for various reasons ranging from social, business, academic and research. With increase in internet usage, discourse may rise as to whether internet has brought more harm than good.

As concerned about the issues pertaining to the safety of its children and as an address to these problems, Zambia has since embarked on strengthening its policies through the integration of child online protection measures that aim at protecting the children at young age from the risks and threats involved in internet services that can be categorised into – Internet Technology risks; Contact risks – content sharing, cyberbullying, online harassment, online dating; Content risks – illegal activities, harmful content, harmful advice; Information privacy and Security risks – revelation of personal data, identity theft, sharing passwords and Commercial related risks –online marketing, age restricted products, online scams.

In an attempt to protect children from online abuse and cyberbullying, Zambia has recently launched an online children protection strategy. The National Child Online Protection Strategy that comes following a rise in the use of social media that has intensified abuse and cyberbullying, has been anchored on the national child policy of 2015 that concerns the development and welfare of children of the country. The policy majorly focuses on providing a safe and secure cyberspace for all children.

Acknowledging the surge in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has brought economic benefits which has further resulted in an increase in online abuse, Minister of Transport and Communication Mutotwe Kafwaya said the launch of the national online policy for child protection from abuse will help the government in addressing the vulnerabilities faced by children at really young ages. The strategy aims at implementation of various programmes to address the risks faced by children online, generate awareness among children on safe internet use and ensure provision of practical tools to encourage all stakeholders involved to provide safe environs to keep children safe.

With this move, the government of Zambia has shown its unwavering commitment in combating the challenges facing the children from various abuses, including, child pornography, cyberbullying, paedophilia, Satanism, sexting and other evil vices on the internet. With access to internet facility which is the need of the hour, come various opportunities and great social and economic benefits but at the cost of exploitation of many, of which children are the youngest of the one exploited in several parts of the world. With rapid expansion of digital communication technologies and diminishing digital divide, it becomes not only Zambia’s but an urgent global priority to protecting the child from online exploitation. Not only a particular nation but NAM Member States and other nations across the world need to address the evils of the society in keeping its population safe and maintaining its interests.

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