Se Ke Seromamowa Sa Botswana

International Radio Diplomacy

By 1981 things had really begun to take off. We followed up the 1979 World Administrative Conference (WARC-79) with attendance at another one to plan the detailed allocation of the VHF/FM broadcasting bands. Ted and I were forced to live in Geneva at the Botswana government's expense for a couple of months at a time. It was a real burden... Cruise steamer trip on Lake Geneva
No time for steamer trips round Lake Geneva!
Buildings of the ITU, Geneva
A view of the International Telecommunications Union buildings in Geneva
We already knew the importance of this sort of international planning, which - although it could be very tedious - raised our understanding of all sorts of issues with which we'd not normally be familiar. In developed countries, for example, there might be several specialists dealing with spectrum allocation in the Posts and Telecommunications ministry. The less-developed countries often didn't attend at all. So we occupied an uneasy middle ground, learning rapidly, sometimes supported by delegates from other countries who took time out to explain the more esoteric issues.
Although we were away for several weeks on end, Ted and I were able to keep in touch with Botswana affairs relatively easily, since the ITU offered free phone calls to delegates' home countries. At the time, this was quite a concession, though if I remember correctly personal use was limited to a couple of calls a week. I was also able to use the ITU's own - and uniquely identified - ham radio station, 4U1ITU, by producing my Botswana licence. Pru had passed radio ham exams herself by this time (not bad for a teacher of English and History!) and we called each other regularly when radio conditions allowed. 4U1ITU at the ITU, Geneva
The International Telecommunications Union amateur station, 4U1ITU

Badges from the ITU

In the next few years Ted and I attended a number of these international planning conferences. We even hosted one ourselves, at which the frequencies used for VHF radio in Southern Africa were distributed (VHF is covered in a later section). In this, South Africa had to be involved despite its poor international links and we were actually glad to have the use of South African Broadcasting Corporation computers for modelling. Other delegates came from the front-line states so it was an intriguing - and I have to say, friendly - week at the Gaborone Holiday Inn. Ted organised the whole thing brilliantly and it certainly raised the status of Radio Botswana in the region.

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