Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) has partnered International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and other stakeholders to develop child online protection services for children accessing Internet.
Speaking on Monday at the opening of a stakeholders forum on the development of a national child online protection (COP) framework for Malawi in Lilongwe, Macra director general Godfrey Itaye said while Internet penetration appears low for Malawi, it offers opportunities to put in place measures for COP before more children fall victim to cyber crimes.
“Children are the most vulnerable group online and it is our responsibility as government, policymakers, industry players and parents to ensure that our children are safe and on guard when online. Child online safety must be given priority,” he said.
A 2014 National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Access and Usage Survey by the National Statistical Office (NSO) and Macra revealed that Internet penetration in Malawi is at 17.6 percent, of which five percent of users are aged below 24.
Facebook users’ statistics for Africa by June 2017 also indicate that Malawi had about 15 000 Internet users in December 2000, which has increased to over 1.5 million by June this year, translating to Internet growth rate of 11.6 percent with 720 000 Facebook users by June 2017.
In her remarks, ITU programme officer Anne Ssemboga said the expansion of mobile broadband combined with affordable and diverse mobile devices is enabling access to the cyberspace by youth and children, making them more exposed to the risks of the digital world.
Statistics from ITU show that by end of 2017, 3.5 billion people are projected to be online, representing 48 percent of the global population. n