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Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

The International Amateur Radio Club (IARC) 50th Anniversary Celebration

Opening Speech

03 February 2012, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
My amateur radio friends,

It is a tremendous pleasure to be with you, here in the ITU’s Popov Room – what could be more appropriate! – for the 50th anniversary celebration of the International Amateur Radio Club.

What a great history the IARC can look back on over the past half century!

Let me therefore salute and congratulate the IARC ‘4U1ITU’ Bureau, its members and its supporters. Let me also honour the members of the IARC who have passed away; they may not be with us here today, but I know they look kindly upon us, just as the great Popov himself does, here in this room.

Over the past fifty years, the IARC has successfully pursued the dream of a handful of ITU radio engineers to create the world’s first international amateur radio club – a club which served as a model amateur radio station operating to the very highest standards.

When I was first elected as ITU Secretary-General, in 2006, it was a tremendous pleasure and a great honour to be asked to take on the unofficial duty of being the ‘patron’ of the ‘4U1ITU’ amateur radio station.

Radio and wireless communications have been magical to me as long as I can remember.

As a child and a young man – before the era of the ubiquitous mobile phone and the Internet and satellite TV – HF radio was an extraordinary source of wealth.

HF radio delivered information and news, was a vital source of entertainment, and even allowed one to master foreign languages.

But the greatest magic of all came in ‘mastering the mystery’ – in learning to build antennas and radio equipment, and how to get in touch with other radio amateurs, all over the world.

My interest in amateur radio has accompanied me throughout my studies and my career – and I was especially inspired by Olof Lundberg, the former CEO of ICO and INMARSAT, and Larry Price, the former IARU President.

By studying hard, and by passing exams at OFCOM in 2007, I became licenced as radio amateur HB9EHT – and this remains one of my most proud achievements!

Today, with my amateur licence, I am not only patron of the ‘4U1ITU’ club, but when I have free time, I am happy to take part in the technical developments and operational activities of the club.

I was particularly pleased with the club’s recent activity during the ITU Mont Blanc expedition in June last year – which allowed ITU staff to track our climbers online, and which gave us regular radio contact to assist the team if necessary.

I have also been closely following and supporting the preparation of the Earth–Moon-Earth (EME) communication from the club, using the new advanced digital signal processing communication tools developed by Professor Taylor.

A hundred years ago, very few people indeed – perhaps just a handful of wireless experimentalists, such as Popov or Marconi – would have had the faintest vision of the ‘wireless life’ we lead today.

Our predecessors at ‘4U1ITU’, fifty years ago, were among the first to use the new, efficient SSB communications modulation, and to build radio equipment using the transistors and integrated circuits which would dramatically improve both quality and portability.

Fifty years later – maintaining the club’s honourable tradition – I am delighted to see that our members continue to master the most advanced communication technologies, including digital signal processing, software defined radio, cognitive radio, and amateur satellite communications. This really is an exceptional club!

My dear friends,

We live increasingly interconnected lives.

And as we are all well aware, ITU has been at the heart of information and communication technologies since they first began, nearly a century and a half ago, with the first International Telegraph Convention in May 1865.

ITU continues to be committed to connecting the world – and radio amateurs also continue to connect the world!

In closing, let me wish ‘4U1ITU’ all the greatest success in your amateur radio endeavours, and may I encourage you to keep your door open to all ITU meeting delegates, and to assist all radio amateurs in the promotion of such a beautiful and indispensable tool – RADIO equipment!

I salute your efforts, and I look forward to the second half century of ‘4U1ITU’!

Thank you