Home History LIBERIA RADIO AMATEUR

LIBERIA RADIO AMATEUR

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Liberian radio amateur operation is recorded to have existed as long as the establishment of the Liberia Government Radio Service. In 1927 the first Amateur radio operation was performed by an expatriate of the Firestone Rubber Company. The actual call letters used is uncertain, but it is assumed that the operator used the Firestone Company address in Harbel, Liberia. Later John Lewis Cooper a Liberian came on using a Liberia identification for the Liberian Government Radio Communication Station. The call letters he used is also unknown. It is assumed that he might have used ELGRS.

Henry Weldon Grimes later came on the air in 1942. Henry was familiar with the requirements for radio amateur. He used the call letters ELG. It is not certain that this call was registered with the International organizations, ITU or F.C.C. The address Liberia Government Radio Service Monrovia, Liberia is recorded. In 1956 other Amateur radio operators came on the air. Samuel H. Butler came on the air with the call letters EL2L, Samuel Richelieu Watkins came on the air with EL2P, and Sewell T. Brewer came on with EL2S. At this period in 1956, Samuel Richelieu Watkins was responsible for the radio frequency used by the Liberia Government Telecommunication Service. He generated considerable interest in the hubby and stimulated many others to study the radio morse code operation.

To encourage interest in the radio amateur operation in Liberia, The Government granted reciprocal operating privilege license to all expatriate United States of America citizens to operate in Liberia. The United States, likewise, granted Liberian citizens the privilege to operate in the United Sates in keeping with agreement established within the respective countries. Because of this agreement, the majority of the radio amateur operators in Liberia were expatriates. Amateur Radio became a popular avenue for making contact with relatives and friends in the United States. The illicit use of the amateur frequency band created problems for regulation and frequency control. To minimize the problem, the Liberian Government granted expatriates US citizens, one-year dispensation to operate in Liberia after which a US license had to be presented in exchange for the Liberian License.

In 1962, Samuel Richelieu Watkins initiated the Radio Amateur Club with provisions for training of its members. Many Liberian students enrolled. The enthusiastic interest of the many students motivated Liberian schools to accept the training program. The principal of the B.W. Harris Episcopal High School, Mr. Edward G. King included Radio Communication as a vocational training program within the school curriculum. The first Liberian student radio amateur club was organized and called the “B. W. Harris Radio Club”. Other schools like the College of West Africa and St. Patricks High School opened their buildings for training classes. The Government Military also recognized the importance of the training and requested training for special units in Radio Telecommunication and Morse Code Communication.

Prior to the school clubs and training program, the majority of those interested in the hubby of Radio Amateur were expatriates. The increased performance of trained Liberians in the technology of Radio Amateur operation motivated the organization of the Liberia Radio Amateur Association to include the various school clubs. Members of the school clubs and others who received training under the approved Radio telecommunication program were accepted as members of the Liberian Radio Amateur Association. Soon the membership of the Association increased and was established in nine zones of Liberia and it became a popular hobby for many.

The Liberian Bureau of Regulations and License became very active, stipulating requirements for obtaining a radio amateur license. Every individual who desired to use radio frequencies in Liberia had to register and obtain a license. In keeping with the international requirement each country was identified by a code assigned. The code for Liberia was EL. Hence every user in Liberia who transmitted a radio signal had to be identified by the EL national code.

The Liberia Radio service was identified as ELRS, the Liberia broadcasting station was identified as ELBC and the only religious broadcasting station was identified as ELWA who then significantly used the call letters EL to signify Eternal Love and WA to signify Winning Africa.

Every amateur radio user was identified by EL and a numeral to identify the area of their location. The country was numerically numbered in zones. There were 9 zones existing in Liberia. For example, an amateur radio station in Monrovia, Montserrado County was identified with the call letters EL2 where the number designated the location within Liberia.

The Liberia Radio Amateur Association (LRAA) was spearheaded by Samuel Richelieu Watkins and coworker Sewell T. Brewer, technicians with the Liberia Government Telecommunications. Samuel Watkins, who initiated the organization, was elected chairman and sponsor of the Association and Sewell T. Brewer was elected co-chairman. Samuel Richelieu Watkins used the call letters EL2P, and Sewell T. Brewer used the call letters EL2S.

Later Sewell T. Brewer EL2S was elected the president of the Liberia Radio Amateur Association, followed by Walcot Benjamin EL2BA, who became a member of the executive committee of International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) region one that includes Europe, Africa and parts of Asia. Walcot Benjamin served the IARU for 15 years adequately representing the Liberia Amateur Radio Association and Region One. Peter Renne EL2CY succeeded Walcott Benjamin as President of the LRAA followed by Henry Harley EL7E and Kamal Hamzi and Eloise Duncan the only lady EL2EQ .She was known popularly as “Echo Lima 2 Elephant Queen”. She was later joined by Milder Dean EL2M who was the president of LRAA in 2003. Another founding member was Polycarp Gedebeku. Student club members who were very active with LRAA include Sarah Maximore, Adolph Rylander, Moses Pitman and Julius Hoff as well as Brother Donor of the Catholic St. Patricks High School.

The “Open Door Policy” of President William V. S. Tubman provided for unrestricted investment and increased commercial business in Liberia. The surge of business demanded immediate communication provision for business transactions. The proliferation of wireless radio communication equipment required the Government to enforce the regulation for radio frequency and radio equipment registration. The government stipulated that all wireless radio equipment must be registered, and the owners of such equipment must be certified by official license to use the radio frequencies. All radio operators were required to be certified by the Bureau of Radio Regulation. The Government stipulated a registration fee of $10.00 to be paid by all Radio Amateur operators.

A special dispensation was granted to school club members. They received free license to operate. All other commercial business radio communications were required to pay a fee of $25.00. All licenses were for one-year renewable. The Bureau of frequencies and license control had to expand its facilities for frequency monitoring and regulation administration to cope with the proliferation of wireless radio for commercial business and increased amateur operation. Frequencies were assigned to various entities of government, business, maritime, aviation, land transport, religious and private operating frequencies.

In 1978, Samuel Richelieu Watkins, Assistant Minister of Posts and Telecommunications was saddled with the responsibility to set up a National Bureau of Radio Frequency Administration in consonance with the United Nations Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the International Bureau of Frequency Regulations, (IBFR). Because of the efficient administration of the Liberia Government International Telecommunications Bureau and its active participation and representation within the International Telecommunications Union, Liberia was honored by the election of Samuel Richelieu Watkins as President of the Pan African Telecommunications Technical Commission (PANAFTEL), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Pan African Telecommunication Union (PATU) with particular coordination for ECOWAS the

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