Sunday, September 28, 2014

The entire continent of Africa worked in less than five years

As you might have been reading in the past week, I worked Eritrea, the last country on the continent of Africa that I needed. Today I've made a special map of Africa showing each DXCC (country/entity) and the date of my very first QSO with that country. It's been a heck of an adventure. If you told me when I got my ticket in October 2009 that I would have worked the entire African continent in five years, I would have laughed at you. Did I ever dream that Somalia AND Eritrea would be activated? Not in a million years. And yet, here we are, a month shy of five years, and I have the whole of Africa in the bag. I can't believe it myself.

By its very nature, Africa is a difficult continent for the ham. For Ireland, it's not too far away, so a lot of countries on the African continent are fairly workable. It's just that many of them are rare because there are few or no radio amateurs. Many many African countries are poor. Most don't have proper infrastructure. Plenty don't have electricity outside of the major cities. Some, like Somalia, are run by pirates. So one thing that the radio amateur will notice about African countries on the air is that many of them will be activated by European operators who are there on business or maybe for charity work. One of the sad facts about Africa is that, for political and other reasons (including corruption, war and famine), many of its indigenous people are unable to get licences and become radio hams. I know that we shouldn't get political in this hobby, but sometimes it grieves me to the core that it is so. I wish that there could come a time when all the African countries will be on the air regularly, each one by native operators, not by visitors from different parts of the world. In the meantime, I am grateful to all the individuals, and indeed dxpedition teams, that have gone to great lengths to give out rare ones to us DX hunters. Thank you.

My first QSO with Africa was with 6V7S in Senegal on November 12th 2009. As we entered 2014, I needed only two DXCC - S0 Western Sahara and E3 Eritrea. S0 became active with S01WS which is a club station in Western Sahara. I worked them on numerous bands. So it was down to Eritrea, the last one needed. And I had resigned myself to the fact that it could be years before that came on the air. However, there was light at the end of the tunnel when it emerged Zorro JH1AJT would be going there with the Foundation for Global Children and might be able to operate from E3. That did transpire, and eventually at four minutes to midnight on 18th September (2014), I worked Zorro as E30FB on 20 metres SSB. Fabulous. Fantastic. The culmination of a great adventure.

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