SKA to transform Africa’s image

SKA to transform Africa’s image

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope installation in South Africa will transform international perceptions of Africa, proving it to be a location of cutting edge technology and science, South Africa’s science and technology minister Derek Hanekom said.

HumanIPO reported in October 2012 South Africa’s Karoo region was chosen to host the telescope, which is set to be the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the world, with the decision prompting widespread excitement over the potential employment and industry benefits associated with the project.

The SKA installation is to include South Africa’s MeerKAT telescope array currently under construction, which is set to be the most sensitive telescope in the Southern hemisphere, featuring 64 satellite dishes, the first of which is being inaugurated today by Hanekom.

Speaking yesterday following the first Ministerial Meeting of the SKA African Partner Countries –  comprising Ghana, Madagascar, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Mauritius and Kenya – Hanekom called on the other countries to push forward with developing human skills in preparation for phase two of the SKA project, during which the partner countries will all be responsible for the implementation of SKA programmes.

“We encourage each partner country to work towards establishing relevant human capital development programmes and instruments aimed at building a new pipeline of researchers, scientists and engineers, technical skills and expertise for the successful implementation and sustainability of the SKA and other radio-astronomy programmes and initiatives,” Hanekom said.

Yesterday the countries signed a readiness strategy and joint implementation plan for SKA, stipulating time resources, funds and human capital to be contributed by the countries by 2015.

HumanIPO reported in October a Ghanaian team arrived in South Africa as the first to begin training in the independent operation and maintenance of radio telescopes across an African network, in preparation for the SKA duties.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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