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Amateur Radio Becoming More Expensive in Tunisia

03/20/2019

Tunisia definitely is not a difficult DXCC entity to put into the log — it’s #188 (out of 340) on Club Log’s Most-Wanted DXCC List — but Amateur Radio is not exactly a trouble-free or inexpensive avocation to pursue there.

The Amateur Radio population trends toward the younger demographic in Tunisia. The Association des Radio Amateurs Tunisiens (ARAT), created in 2011 after the Jasmin Revolution, is the country’s International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) member-society.

“The work that has been done so far was mainly funded by ARAT members — average age 22 years old — and other organizations,” said ARAT President Ashraf Chaabane, KF5EYY. These include support by the Yasme Foundation for Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) activity or IARU Region 1 support for Amateur Radio direction finding (ARDF) equipment. Yasme grants have made it possible for young radio amateurs from Tunisia and other countries to attend YOTA summer camp. At present, all Amateur Radio activity in Tunisia is organized around club stations as opposed to individual stations, and several enthusiasts such as Chaabane have obtained US Amateur Radio licenses in order to get on the air from Tunisian club stations. Chaabane, who operates from 3V8SS, is looking forward to the day Tunisia issues him its first individual Amateur Radio license.

ARAT has a cooperative agreement with the Scouting organization (3V8SF) that provides a connection with thousands of young Scouts and a solid platform to develop interest in Amateur Radio. Scouts in Tunisia have been taking part in the Jamboree on Air (JOTA) event for several years now.

“Right now, the licenses of the Scout clubs haven’t been paid for 10 years, putting the clubs at serious risk of closure and 3V not being on the air for an unknown period,” Chaabane said. “Amateur Radio is a very small part of Tunisian Scout activities [and] is already having financial difficulties.”

Last year, Chaabane said, the Ministry of Telecommunication requested that all radio amateurs’ equipment pass a conformity test. “This won’t also be possible without raising funds,” he said.

ARAT is reaching out to the wider Amateur Radio community to help support Amateur Radio in Tunisia, by subsidizing license fees and the one-time conformity testing. “Any other remaining monies will help financing ARAT activities, such as maintaining club equipment, antenna experimentation, electronic kit building, lectures in universities, etc,” Chaabane said, adding that he’ll answer any questions in the interest of full transparency.

Routing donations via the PayPal account of QSL Manager LX1NO avoids tax consequences in Tunisia.

In a recent post to the Topband Reflector, noted DXer and contester Frank Donovan, W3LPL, urged one sector of US radio amateurs to help out.

“Many Top Band operators had at least one QSO with the Scout Amateur Radio Club station 3V8SF this season, thanks to the efforts of ARAT and their president Ash, KF5EYY,” Donovan pointed out. He noted that the now-required equipment conformity testing comes on top of already high license fees.

“Keeping Tunisia on the air will be expensive, 2,000 Euros in licensing fees, and 1,000 Euros in one-time transmitter conformity testing fees,” Donovan said. “You can thank the ARAT members for their Top Band activity this season and keep them on the air in the future if you can make a donation.”

 



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