Jun 05, 2013 at 1:40am
NCA Encourages Amateur Radio Usage
Mr Paarock Vanpercy, Director General of the National Communications Authority
Mr Paarock Vanpercy, Director General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), has stressed the need for Ghana to encourage Amateur Radio Operations.

This, he said, would help the youth to develop interest in the area and move to higher levels of technological awareness.

He made the call at the opening of a five-day training course on Amateur Radio Administration, organised by the NCA in conjunction with the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) (Region 1) and the International Telecommunications Union in Accra.

The workshop, which runs from June 3 June to June 7, is to train regulators and prospective regulators on administration of the amateur service and amateur-satellite service in developing countries for managing disaster relief communications and to organise an amateur radio society.

Mr Vanpercy noted that although countries such as Japan, Taiwan and North Korea, had nurtured the area of technology such that they are manufacturing highly developed technological products, amateur radio operation had not reached high levels in Ghana.

He attributed this to the fact that Ghanaians are only familiar with the Authority’s work in mobile and fixed telecom services and broadcasting and not its work in areas such as aeronautical radio, maritime radio and amateur radio services.

Mr Vanpercy said this is the reason why the workshop is being organised to build the capacity and create public awareness about the innovation.

“In Africa and Ghana, specifically, amateur radio operations have not been patronised as they have been in the developed countries. None of the licenses which have been granted to Amateur Radio Operators by the NCA went to Ghanaians,” he stated.

The Electronic Communications Regulations Act of 2011, defines amateur radio service as “a type of radio communication service used for interconnection, leisure-time activity, testing and research” and provides for the grant of amateur radio licenses to an applicants who are not less than 14 years of age and have passed the radio amateur examination or possess the requisite qualifications prescribed for the purpose.
Mr Vanpercy said amateur radio is of immense benefit to its users and the world as a whole and crucial to the ever developing world of telecommunications and industrialisation with enthusiasts making significant contributions to science, engineering, industry and social services as well as producing research, which has founded new industries, built economies and empowered nations.

By far the most important benefit of amateur radio operations is for emergency communications. When normal communications methods fail and cell phone towers are jammed, amateur radio operations will still work," he said, explaining that amateur radio operations do not require towers to relay signal.

"Amateur radio operators can use hundreds of frequencies and can quickly establish networks with emergency services and rescue services, tying these agencies together to enhance interoperability,” he stated.

Citing examples such as the case of the Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ike disasters, which hit the United States in 2005 and 2008 and the Sichuan earthquake in the People's Republic of China in 2008, where amateur radio operators provided primary communications for the activities of the American Red Cross and other rescue efforts, he noted that amateur radio has been used to save lives in times of emergency.

He urged educational institutions such as senior high schools, polytechnics and universities to consider applying for licenses from the NCA to expose their students to the field as an area of interest and also as a basis for further research.

He said security and disaster management organisations should consider amateur radio operations as an important tool in disaster recovery activities, especially as a backup for other communication modes which may be disabled in serious disasters.

“The Authority will soon publish the syllabus for the amateur radio examination and clearly outline modalities for the exam. We urge the public and authorities to take advantage of this as the practical knowledge about basic electronic communications to be acquired, which could inure to the benefit of the entire country especially in emergency situations” he said.

The workshop is being handled by IARU visiting instructors Mr Hans Blondeel Timmerman and Mr Brennan Tennesen, with 30 participants including staff of the NCA and others from Kenya and Southern Sudan.

Mr Timmerman said he was pleased that Ghana through the NCA had agreed to host the course as a means of promoting amateur radio operations especially within the Anglophone African countries.

He commended the NCA for a well organised Spectrum Management Table and asked other participants to take a cue from it for their operations.

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