Virtual connection step in to replace physical meetings amidst COVID-19 lockdown

It has been five days since the government declared a countywide lockdown allowing only essential services to remain in operation.

All public and social gatherings including schools, churches and weddings were suspended.

The lockdown was part of the effort to combat the COVID-19 which has ravaged the world where Rwanda has so far registered 41 cases.

As people are obliged to stay in their homes and keep social distance, they are shifting to virtual interactions to stay connected both for official and social purposes.

Companies are working from home and important meetings are being held virtually.

On a global level, on March 25th, UN Security Council held its first virtual meeting since UN headquarters shifted to telework.

On the continental and regional level, trainings are also being held virtually.

Just on Wednesday, all ministers of health in the East African Community met by video conference and adopted a raft of measures to keep the coronavirus at bay. 

Jane Godia is a Manager in charge of Capacity Building in Women In News Africa, an organization that promotes gender equality in media organizations across Sub Saharan Africa and Arab region.

When the pandemic broke out, they were set to a start a leadership accelerator programme with female journalists in 15 countries.

Since they can not gather physicially, they decided to conduct the trainings virtually.

Godia told The New Times that they have had webinars and online trainings before but it is the first year that the WIN Leadership Accelerator Programme has been launched in a country online. The programme has brought together around 100 trainees.

Cost-effective

In an email interview, she said that the in-person meetings were suspended because of the public health threats that have been brought about by COVID 19.

“It's 90% effective, the only challenge comes when people want to ask questions or where there are no good microphones and speakers for effective communication,” she explained and added that virtual meetings are even cheaper.

“Face to face trainings come with a budget because you have to pay for air tickets and pay for hotels and may be transport for participants. However, as a continent, we still have not fully adopted to virtual trainings or meetings hence the effectiveness lacks but definitely virtual is cheaper.”

Staying connected 

Gentillesse Cyuzuzo vacated from school a week ago. She was used to huge communities such as classes and restaurants. It was hard at first for to get used to indoors life, but WhatsApp video calls with her friends makes it less boring.

Before COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Cyuzuzo did not use virtual chats as often as she is currently.

“Video chats helps a lot, they makes me feel less lonely and less bored. Although internet connection is poor sometimes, otherwise people can still interact,” she said.

Her point was echoed by Paul Rwigema , another students who uses live tutorial videos online to learn.

“Videos can be very effective too. I actually think if everyone had enough resources we can conduct classes online,” he says.

5 popular video chatting apps

  1. WhatsApp: WhatsApp works on both Android and iOs platforms and has 2 billion users. You can have groups of up to four users on WhatsApp.
  2. Skypee: Skype can host groups of up to 50 people around the world. Skype can be used on mobile devices, computers and smart watches.
  3. Zoom: Zoom is especially useful if you work from home. You can have up to 100 people on a Zoom video call at once under their basic, free plan.
  4. Facebook messenger:  Facebook Messenger allows for free video calling around the world for individuals or groups of up to six participants and can be used on cellular devices as well as tablets and computers.
  5. Instagram: Video chat with up to six people at once globally for free using Instagram.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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