Today, telco Safaricom hosted the Safer Internet Day (SID) fair, which is an annual program and that raises awareness of the challenges and opportunities young people encounter in the online world. The Day is also staged to empower everyone to use technology services and products responsibly and creatively, and has been reaching out to children and young people, parents, guardians and the industry to encourage everyone to play their role in making the Internet a safe and educative platform.
Safaricom’s participation in the SID event makes a lot of sense because the carrier has, for a long time, been associated with the growth of internet services in the country. Its range of internet-based products and services have been replicated by other players. It is also the carrier that launched fast (at that time) 3G services, as well as LTE coverage that continues to grow day by day.
“We see the company’s future as data-driven, agile, efficient and adaptive. For this to be realized, we have to protect our children from the ills of the Internet while also making sure they get the most out of it in terms of learning and entertainment. With our aim being to transform lives, we want everybody to be able to log on and learn their crafts, create and share content and advance their education without being in danger of viewing explicit content or being bullied,” said Stephen Chege, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer – Safaricom.
“With the kind of reach we have, it is important to us that we tell as many individuals as possible to create a better internet by developing four critical skills: Respect, Responsibility, Reasoning and Resilience – we call these the 4Rs,” said Mr Chege.
The carrier signed a Kenya Child Online Protection Industry Charter with GSMA, among other mobile operators to push for tougher child online protection programs. On its end, Safaricom has since installed a child online safety policy that shapes the development of its products and ensuring they are sensitive to the safety of children.
On the other side, search giant Google launched the 2019 edition of Web Ranger with the Kenya Scouts Association. The Web Rangers is a youth program that promotes internet safety to celebrate SID. The program was launched in Kenya in 2015 and has also been implemented in 14 other countries.
Besides collaborating with the Kenya Scouts, Google is also working with CODE-IP Trust and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development to launch an internet safety manual. In addition, more than 1.4 million scouts and 50,000 scout leaders and trainers are expected to receive the Kenya Scouts Association Online Safety Learners’ Handbook and Teachers’ Guide that will offer more insights about online safety.
“I consider the safe and responsible use of the internet to be a vital skill for the virtuous and patriotic youth of the 21st century… Programmes such as Google’s Web Rangers and its partnership with the Kenya Scouts Association are a very welcome complement to the work that parents, teachers, guardians and the Government do in building a better world for our children,” noted Prof. Margaret Kobia, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Public Service, Youth & Gender Affairs in a speech presented on her behalf by Dr. Francis Owino, Principal Secretary in the State Department for Youth Affairs.
“Google is proud to be a partner of the Kenya Scouts Association, Kenya’s largest youth movement, in scaling the Web Rangers program to empower an even greater number of young people to be safe and responsible users of the Internet,” said Mr. Michael Murungi, Google’s Policy & Government Relations Lead for East Africa.
Google’s and Safaricom’s approaches, while different, aim to address cases of cyberbullying and raising awareness of the issues surrounding internet usage.