Succeeding in Section Activities During COVID: Messages From SPE African Section Officers
From an optimistic point of view, the season we are in has exposed us to virtual events, which allows for collaboration among sections.
In the last quarter of 2019, the world experienced a dramatic change in the way daily activities happen: A completely new and unknown virus (COVID-19) appeared, forcing many nations and societies to implement several restrictions in an effort to minimize contagion and deaths.
In this article, some SPE African sections share their experience on how to conduct activities during the global pandemic, so other SPE sections can implement similar events to benefit their members.
Adebola Bada, Chairman, SPE Port Harcourt Section, Nigeria
“[The lockdown] has strongly affected membership drive, sponsorship of events, and most importantly the conviviality that we used to have during most SPE in person events.
We should know and agree that there is a paradigm change in the way we do things. Most guidelines and by-laws must be reviewed along COVID-19 protocols. Also, [we need to] ensure there is an updated methodology of reaching out to members and sponsors. We should be careful of too many virtual events/programs to avoid stress-related issues to our members. I also think we should start trying out hybrid events.”
Celestina Kissi, Chairperson, SPE Ghana Section
“Virtual programs and events were not a regular activity in the section and it took us a while to get and train the people to organize these types of programs. Once that was out of the way, I would say that it takes a minimum of 2 weeks to plan a successful program and, that is faster than the in-person events we had to schedule in the past. Additionally, the cost of obtaining a venue and refreshments has been completely eliminated.
In my perspective, the virtual platforms should be used for distinguished lectures; conferencing can be in person; [this way] more programs can be organized and the lectures can be recorded and watched later.”
Offor Princess Chinyere, Publicity Chairperson, SPE Lagos Section, Nigeria
“[Our section is] creating the need to adapt to virtual events and be innovative and find new member engagement strategies.”
Collaboration among sections and chapters, utilizing digital technology to increase the visibility on SPE events, and sharing best practices that have worked among sections and chapters are some lessons learned from the experience.
An online symposium organized between two SPE Sections in different countries. Source: Author’s archives.
Kato Obadiah Anthony, Chairperson, SPE Uganda Section, Kampala
“From an optimistic point of view, the season we are in has exposed us to virtual events. This allows for collaboration between sections, increases the number of lectures, and at the same time significantly reduces operational costs that were required to hold traditional in-person events.”
SPE Uganda Section has identified the following best practices: “During a pandemic, sections need to reach out to affected communities through the SPE Cares initiative, consistently engage with its members to promote and support membership for both students and professionals, and collaborate on virtual platforms to boost participation and learning among its members.”
There is no doubt that the pandemic has affected our lives and the way we used to do things. How we organize and carry out events for the benefit of our members has changed significantly; this means “you either innovate or you die.”
Inputs of the article sourced from section officers by TWA Content Creator, James Allotey-Okai.