Licensing information for Burundi 9U

Prepared by: OH2MCN - Veke & 9M6DXX - Steve
Status: 08

Intro: You can try with the help of instructions below.

Licensing Authority:
Agence de Regulation et de Control des Telecommunications (ARCT)
360 Ave Patrice Lumumba
PO Box 6702
tel. +257 221 0276
fax. +257 242 2832
email arct at

A few licensing issued after 2007 and accepted by DXCC.

NOTE from [425DXN] 425 DX News #408
BURUNDI ---> According to Bill Moore, NC1L ([email protected]), the list of the 9U calls that will be affected by the purging process from the DXCC database [425DXN 407] "includes the callsigns listed below and may or may not be limited to these: 9U/F5FHI, 9U/EA1FH, 9U5W, 9U5DX, 9U5T, 9U5CW, 9U5DX. Remember, only the contacts dated January 1, 1994 or after do not count. Some have credits before this and these would be OK. 4U9U is OK."

9U5CW: two guys and a candlestick

"Lowbands and RTTY from Burundi"

by Peter Casier
[email protected]

The idea to activate 9U on the lowbands originated in 1995 when I was leaving for 9Q. Long time friend John-ON4UN asked to go to 9U as this was one of the countries which was not added to his list of 260 odd he had worked on topband. John has always been a great help in preparing my trips and assisting with his valuable knowledge during our past DX operations, so.... Unfortunately, in 9Q, I was pretty much glued onto my spot in Goma, so no 9U. When beginning of this year, I took up a telecom assignment in the United Nations World Food Programme (the main food aid organisation of the UN), Burundi was one of the countries I was responsible for. Each time I spoke to John, it was: 'And when 9U?'.

And 9U came unexpectedly. All was prepared in just a few days time, as due to the worsening security situation, I had to plan the professional part of my trip very fast. I contacted 9U5CW (EA1FH) whom I knew from the Goma days. Alfredo works in Bujumbura for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He said that I could stay with him, and that he had a large garden to put up the lowband antenna I had with me. There is a long story to this antenna, as it travelled with me to 9Q5TT, D2TT/D3T and then to VK6 ready to be shipped to Heard Island... I carry this 15m tall inverted L around in a ski bag. It has 6 telescopic tubes of 1.5m, and a top of a fibreglass fishing rod. The toploading wire ends on a plastic egg insulating the 80 from the 160 part. The base has a multitap UNUN, and a series of capacitors, so I can shorten the antenna from below (switching between 80 cw and 75 ssb) and can match it perfectly. This antenna was originally made by John, for the 9Q trip. As a sidenote, the experiments with that antenna lead to a new design for toploaded monoband vertical we are going to use on Heard.

Two days before the trip, I was proud to tell John abt the plans, and made some 160m skeds with him, in case conditions would be so bad I would not be able to hear his prominent signal. The day before my trip, I finally received my Ugandan call, 5X1T, so I could not resist running the piles from my base station in Kampala until 2 am. We left for Entebbe airport 4 hours later. While descending to the airstrip of Bujumbura, the capital, you get a good view on the city, which is built right at Lake Tanganyika, leaning against the hills around it. Right next to Bujumbura lays Uvira, Zaire, one of the sites with some large refugee camps.

We landed in Buja, as the locals call their capital, on Friday May 31 in the afternoon. Picked up by the people of the local WFP office, I was run through customs (no questions asked with a UN diplomatic passport). This was the first time I actually entered Burundi. Being a frequent traveller in the region, I often passed here in transit, but never left the airport. The first glance at the capital of this country which is known for its years long of etnic trouble, was interesting. It did not seem that this country was in the middle of a civil war and etnic clashes. The streets were tidy, the buildings were well built and maintained, the cars in good shape... How wrong first impressions can be! There is strict curfew at 9 pm, and every night the Hutu rebels descent from the hills around the city, guaranteeing frequent furious confrontations with the regular Burundi army who are mostly Tutsis.

We had meetings in the office until 5 pm when Alfredo, 9U5CW picked me up and drove me to his home. It was good to see him again after one year and a half. Certainly one of the main characteristics of friendship made in troubled areas like these, and working in the same field, is that they are more intense than day to day friends or acquaintances. We both know that we work in high risk places, and that one day something might go wrong. When we see a friend back, it feels like 'hey we're both still alive and kicking!'. Alfredo is a great guy, always well humoured and busy, whom you may ask any favour. He had told me before my arrival that he was looking forward to do 80 and 160, two bands which had not been activated since a very long time. I actually doubt if 9U has ever been on topband before. As both him and 9U5DX, Jean-Pierre, another collegue from UNHCR, are very busy with their job, they had no time to put up anything decent for the lowbands.

Alfredo's house looked great in the glare of the lights in the garden. It was a Spanish like villa, with a wide open porch and patio, great layout of exotic plants and palmtrees. The compound lays on the side of one of the hills, looking over the lake - and towards EU, and USA. In the back there is a 40m by 10m grass field, where Alfredo had planned to put up the vertical. His shack was very simple: a Yaesu FT900AT, one car battery, a charger, a Heilset and a CW paddle. No filters, no amplifier. The antenna is a Cushcraft R7, mounted on the roof. Alfredo had a Kam+ RTTY modem, but it was not connected to the rig, because of no connectors.

As it was already 6 pm, we decided to go out for some dinner first, before the curfew of 9 pm. During the meal, we agreed to hook up the RTTY gear first, and to do the lowband antenna tomorrow, as there was not enough light in the back garden. Also, we did not want to take the risk of too many muscitoe bites, as malaria is very common in this area so close to the lake. I had taken a toolbox and spare connectors, wires and plugs with me, so we improvised a connection between the modem and the radio. After some fiddling around (which made us laugh by the idea that we were supposed to be telecoms professionals, hi), we got the stuff to work. Some more fiddling to get everything in tune with WF1B's RTTY program (tnx Ray!), and we were in business. First CQ and DF3HD came back. And then... nothing. CQ after CQ, but zip. New frequency. CQ again. Rig heated up, decided to run 50 W max, in the cramped 10 KHz of the 20m RTTY space. One station per 10 minutes came back. We were a bit desillusioned. 4th station and 1st Stateside was N1RCT. 30 minutes and 6 stations further, we decided to call it quits.

Then it was time to show Alfredo the present I had for him: A CW interface cable for CT. I swear to God, he almost kissed me! He had mentioned in one of the exchanges we had via Email, that running CW with a paddle and no keyer was a pain. I knew he used CT, so the use of an interface cable was evident. I showed him the little label on the connector: "for 9U5CW from ON4UN. Price: one 160m QSO!" "Tomorrow for sure", Alfredo smiled. We run some SSB pile-up, and asked an ON to phone John to say we would have the antenna up tomorrow. While Alfredo run the piles in CW (with his new cable), I assembled the low band antenna in the living room.

The next morning, a Saturday, we raised the antenna, and laid out about 20 ground radials on the grass. The SWR on 80, 75 and 160 was perfect, but when we listened on the bands, there was very high electrical interference, probably caused by one of the generators in the neighbourhood (we had no electricity for days in a row). We were worried. Fortunately, this was the first and last time we heard the interference! During the day, we run the piles in CW and SSB. Around 13:00 gmt, I tried 20m RTTY again, and by jolly the hords had heard me. A whole range of diddles came back to my first CQ. Now this was a challenge, I have to tell you: managing the piles with 50W, a vertical and a Kam+ with NO filters. The Kam could not decode any signal once there was more than one guy calling, and it was clear that my signal was covered by callers. I went for split, spreading the piles open. One to two stations per minute was as fast as I could go. A great opening to JA, fed the run for a long time. This felt great. Yes, 9U was wanted on diddle-mode! Once the piles died out, we went for some more CW and SSB, until 19:00. Time for lowbands to JA (JA sunrise). Numerous CQs on topband, but no reply. Could not hear any signals neither. Nobody waiting for us on 80 neither. At 19:22, SP5EWY was logged as the first 80m contact. A few others followed, but nothing much. As it was too early for a decent EU run, Alfredo decided to go for a sleep, and I continued on the other bands. Around 22:00 gmt, i tried for another strategy: instead of calling endlessly on 80m cw, I would look for a good signal on 75m phone, raise a pileup and then announce we would go for cw. After that, we would announce to go to 160. I call it the 'pick and drag' technique, which I use often to drag guys from 15 to 12 and 10m, when I know there is an opening, but nobody is listening there.... So said, so done. I8UDB was on 75m phone. I called in, and as usual, Dom gave me the frequency. Signals were good, and I run a pile in phone. I announce we would go to 3505, woke up Alfredo and let him run 80 cw. The callers were numerous, our reception was great, but it was clear that our low power and the high static in the northern hemisphere bothered the reception of the others. So the QSOs did not go very fast, and demanded slow CW and loads of explicit repeats. We announced to QSY to 1823. We thought of running split from the first moment so went RX on 1835. No-one came back. This was sked time with John, ON4UN, but no signal. We looked at eachother and were worried. And then, from the darkness of QRM, came a biiig signal. D-E O-H-1-X-X O-H-1-X-X. Hannu! No surprise he was the first one! We worked him, and listened for some more. No-one. Decided to just call for 'up'-'up'. And sure enough, there they were. About 10 QSOs and that was it. Back to 80. More piles. Around 02:00gmt, the first North-American came in: K1ST, shortly followed by Jack, VE1ZZ. More EU, and then more NA. We tried to drag the Americans to 160 but no go. Could only work some EU. Each 80/160 m band switch, I had to run out, climb onto the roof to shorten or open the strap on the toploading wire. The guards must have thought this was very funny! Back to 80, more NA. And then it died out. Tried 40, but no go. It was 03:00 and 80 had died. We went to bed.

Next day, the Sunday, same routine: run piles on CW, SSB, RTTY the whole time, but propagation was real lousy. It became also clear that North America would be problematic in RTTY: no openings were good enough to guarantee a good NA run. Sked on 00:00 for ON4UN was nil. Run some more EU on 80. Sked at 01:00 with ON4UN, was nil, more EU on 80 while stateside started dripping in. Went back to 160 half an hour before the sked at 02:00, and worked VE1ZZ, and some others. And then, with a blasting signal: daadaadaah daahdit dididididaah dididaah daadit. ON4UN at last. John explained later that on the Saturday night, he run the fieldday station from ON6MS/P, and slept through our first two skeds on Sunday night. He got us on first call, though. 599 both ways. By that time, both Alfredo and myself were tired and went to bed at 4 am local time, to get up 3 hours later to go to work. Both of us had dark circles around our eyes....

Coming back home, it was straight to the radio, mainly RTTY, then later in the night 80-160. Got up at 00 gmt for EU on low bands, and 03 gmt for NA. Still no JA in the early night. Actually, we heard nothing on the low bands until around 21 gmt, way too late for JA... And this is how it went for the next days: to work early, home around 6 pm, and straight to the radio. We made it a point to get on the bands at 03 gmt, 05 am local time, for NA, and the harvest was good for us.

On Wednesday, I left for a fieldtrip to Ngozi, upcountry in Burundi. Quite interesting. I should say. I slept in a house, where our expatriat staff got a grenade thrown at them one evening a few months ago. The wall was still burned black, and pieces of sharpnel had blown all furniture to pieces. Luckily, no-one was hurt. The next morning, we heard the sad news that 50 km up the road, three Red Cross expatriates were killed in a cold blooded ambush. It was a sad day for all of us relief workers in Burundi, and the whole area. The Thursday, I flew to Gitega, another site upcountry. A wonderful area, but very 'hot'. Our food convoys in that area are done under heavy military escort. We slept in the office, a nice villa, 20 minutes from town. Next door, there was a convent for retired nuns. I had visited them, asking for some rope and a small mast to get our HF antenna in the office a bit higher. Nice people.

I flew back to Bujumbura and the piles and the next day, I learned that the night after I left, the convent next to our Gitega office had been attacked during the whole night, and that WFP evacuated the office. I had missed the attack by one night! The next weekend, my last one in Burundi, Alfredo and I just kept on ploughing through the piles in whatever mode we could think of. We also worked our first JA on 80: JA8DNV, shortly followed by JA4DND, JA8EOT and others. We also has some real good openings to EU on 80 and 160. No JA on 160 though. The NA harvest was good.

One night, our generator run out of diesel, so we operated by candle light, as long as the battery of the portable computer would allow it. It sure must have looked funny to anyone who would see us: two guys and a candlestick, intensily looking at a computer screen and fiddling with a little black box, and from time to time shouting and laughing when once a again, a friend was worked on the low bands...

The Monday came, and we decided that I would leave the lowband vertical in Burundi, until end of August as the demand for 80/160 was higher for 9U than for 5X, mostly cleaned out by 5X4F. Alfredo also said that during his holiday in July, he would shop for an amplifier, and buy the WF1B software and the right RTTY connectors. I hope that by now, some more people have worked him.

I bid farewell to Alfredo, flying back to my base in Kampala, Uganda. It was a great week, and I sure hope we made some guys happy. In 9 days, together, we made just over 3000 QSOs, of which 350 in RTTY, 42 on 160, and 233 on 80. And ON4UN? He is one more 160 country richer. What is it, John? Number 268 or so? I lost count, hi.

CU from 5X or some other countries in the region before the end of the year. And.... cu from Heard island in Jan'97! Do not forget we still need your support via KK6EK!

73-Peter ON6TT - 5X1T.


Every year, reliefworkers die in the line of duty, in Africa, in Central America, in Asia or in the Middle East, or in ex-Yugoslavia. Killed in ambushes, or by mines or victims of cold blooded attacks. I'd like to dedicate this article to those friends who left us, and especially those three ICRC delegates, killed in an ambush. Our thoughts are with you. May one day, our work be obsolete...

Here is an extract from the WFP weekly emergency telex published that same week. It gives you an impression what is going on in this region. The report is weekly distributed over Internet by Deborah Hicks ([email protected]):

a) Three ICRC delegates killed in ambush north of Cibitoke on 4 June. ICRC suspends all humanitarian operations in Burundi. IFRC also stops distribution activities in northern Burundi.
b) A group of 85 French nationals evacuate from Burundi.
c) Massacre in IDP camp in Butezi, Ruyigi province, leaves 50 dead, mainly women and children.
d) Further displacement of population takes place due to confrontations between military and rebels in Kayanza.
e) Refugees from Rwanda arrive in northern Burundi following reported death of 40 persons in attack in Cyangugu Prefecture.

Zaire - Goma
a) Disturbances take place involving soldiers in Goma town; airport closes between 31 May and 4 June; food distributions and monitoring activities are interrupted.
b) Attack on Bunagana, one of two truck entry points from Uganda to Zaire, on 5 June; 28 persons killed. WFP compound under attack.
c) Both roads into Goma from Uganda close intermittently between 1-4 June due to security situation, delaying relief trucks.

a) Some 6,000 Burundian refugees try to cross into Tanzania near Kigoma between 27 May to 2 June; 2,000 manage to enter but are returned to Burundi by Tanzanian soldiers. Burundian refugees continue to cross into Ngara region in spite of border closure.

a) Heightened insecurity in Cyangugu.

(...) " -------------------------------------
Peter Casier
TCU Telecom Projects Manager
United Nations - World Food Programme
Transport Coordination Unit
POBOX 7159 Kampala - Uganda

tel: +256 41 231112/251113/251758 fax: +256 41 250485/251760

[email protected]

Email home: [email protected]