2008: Guinea (3x5A)

The Guinea 3X5A team in 2008:

AA7A - Ned Stearns

G3SXW - Roger Western

G3XTT - Don Field

G4BWP - Fred Handscombe

G4IRN - John Warburton

GM3YTS - Robert Ferguson

K5VT - Vince Thompson

N6AA - Dick Norton

Rigs: Elecraft K2 and K3 transceivers, Alpha amplifiers: seven one-kilowatt stations.

Antennas: Five beams, 160m Titanex, 80m sloper, Flag Rx antenna for LF.

Claimed score: 13,039 QSOs; 173 zones; 627 countries = 31.0m points.

Note from team: This was our group’s 17th CQWWCW entry from West Africa, our second year in Guinea. Again, many thanks to our good friends Karel and Mr. Camara. The project was a big success but the HF bands were poor. CU AGN next year!

Troubles in 3X

Roger Western, G3SXW

You will have heard that the President of Guinea, Lansana Conte, died on 22 December aged 74 after a long illness. This was followed immediately by a military coup d’état. Many thanks to the several friends who contacted the 3X5A team with good wishes.

He was one of the last few remaining despotic, autocratic African rulers. Gross mismanagement of the economy left his ten million people in abject poverty. Guinea is rich in natural resources with nearly one half of the world’s resources of bauxite, used for making aluminium, not to mention gold, diamonds and uranium. Guinea is ranked as one of the world’s most corrupt countries. The President has been ill for some years and his death was expected. When it finally came there was a sense of relief that now some change could come about.

So, when the military declared a coup d’état the population welcomed it: any change from the current incompetent government was good news. At the time of writing, in late December, this transition has been smooth with no troubles – so far. A night-time curfew was imposed and some soldiers have been firing into the air to enforce it. The next few weeks will be important for determining whether the country makes a smooth transition to better times, or whether it descends into in-fighting between factions, anarchy and civil war. Recent trends in neighbouring states like Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Liberia will hopefully not be copied where disputes between tribes caused long-term civil wars.

Good Timing!

From our point of view the VooDoo Contest Group’s 3X5A activity in CQ WW CW Contest at end of November was very successful. It was also well-timed – or rather the President’s death was! Our operation was good fun and we all returned home safely some three weeks before the coup d’état.

These days we travel with our own transceivers and laptops so the main stock-pile left in storage in Conakry is the seven Alpha amplifiers, antennas, towers, rotators, coax, cables, switches, filters. Also computer peripherals such as wireless routers, WinKeys, external keyboards, mice and so forth. This is all safely stowed inside a container in the yard of a Belgian-owned company, owned by our friend Karel, 3XY2A.

The future is, of course, uncertain. As a very worst scenario Guinea will fall apart, Karel will have to leave and all will be lost. That extreme is highly unlikely – a way would be found to rescue our possessions, by shipping them out.

Next Year

Indeed, our stock-pile is intended to just gather dust in Conakry for the next many months anyway, so whatever happens in the meantime does not directly affect us. But come next October we will be planning our next foray into West Africa. On the back of this second 3X5A operation we did a brief recce trip to 9L Freetown, Sierra Leone and made arrangements to operate there next November.

So our plan will be to move the stock-pile from Conakry to Freetown, probably by road. The middle section of the route is really, really rough. It took us five hours to do about sixty miles and we decided that our normal heavily-laden bus would never make it, next year. Alternative methods are being developed.

At present the plan is to continue with our normal routine of moving country every other year: 9L5A for November 2009 and 2010 is certainly achievable but with an extra spanner in the works this time! But we can’t complain: our contest-group has been in West Africa for sixteen years and never met any problems. So now it is perhaps our turn to have an extra head-ache or two.

We wish the people of Guinea well: they have suffered long enough and deserve leadership which cares about them instead of simply lining its own pockets. We also wish Karel well: he has been in Conakry for fifteen years and is well-connected. At the same time we hope and expect our small CQ WW Contest world to continue unabated.