In a normal world, virtual reality is known to cut down costs on hosting meetings and conferences across the business world.
Even for those in Botswana who have hosted meetings or conferences through it, virtual reality has been credited for cutting costs on accommodation, travels and meals for people traveling across this vast country.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when it comes to the upcoming Botswana Football Association (BFA) elective General Meeting (AGM) taking place this coming Saturday.
According to the BFA chief executive officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo, the upcoming BFA elective assembly will cost a whooping P500 000 to host.
The sum is a 100 percent increase on the costs the BFA would have expected to incur had this been a normal elective general assembly, which is estimated could have been at least P250 000.
According to Mfolo, even they did not anticipate that the prices will sky rocket as they did, but ‘the show had to go on.’
So, how does a virtual meeting which would normally cost at least a P100 000 spiral to half a million pula?
Under normal circumstances, when an AGM is held only one hall is booked catering for all delegates, BFA executive committee, Electoral committee and observers/ media personal.
But these are no ordinary times, thanks to the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic which has altered how the association has to conduct its business.
Due to the restrictions on interzonal travel for meetings, the association has been forced to simultaneously conduct the meeting from four regions.
But as this is an elective assembly, where delegates have to physically cast their votes, the meeting could not be entirely virtual.
So, instead of booking only one hall, a record number of four conference centers in four different zones have been booked to host the elective assembly.
The four centres will be in Greater Gaborone, Jwaneng, Francistown and Palapye.
As the meeting part of the elective assembly will be virtual, the association had to ensure there will be uninterrupted connectivity across all the four venues.
Mfolo notes that while it cannot be said that internet on its own has cost so much, it however has a very big part in the expenses.
“It should be known that internet for a day is cheap but for us looking at the magnitude of the event we need reliable and fast internet,” he explains.
“We needed a dedicated internet line that is separate from others in all different places where we will be hosting and that is money,” he says.
Mfolo went on to add that the prices for internet connectivity are separate from that of hiring equipment that will be used for the virtual meeting to take place.
For this conference, Mfolo says the equipment needed, includes four large screens in all centers, public address system (PA) along with special cameras to project, and all these come at a price.
For connectivity, at least four companies have been involved in assisting through all the process. MTN internet will be used in the main center being Gaborone while OBQ net will assist other places.
Another expenditure will come in the form of accommodation, with the association having to book at four different venues.
This means that where the association could have used numbers to bargain for better prices, this will be less likely. This publication has been notified that Cresta hotel and Travel Lodge will be used.
However, as with anything during this coronavirus era, the prices of accommodation are said to have gone up.
Jwaneng being a mining town, is reported to be the most expensive in accommodation as compared to the other venues.
Mfolo says that each lodging has different prices unlike booking from one hotel for all the people involved in the AGM.
After the AGM, Mfolo said they will evaluate how the process was and if they can carry on with it in the future. He also said if it does work as they hope it too; they will consider buying their own equipment’s so that next time they save money.