28 May 2012
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) on Monday joined President Jacob Zuma in congratulating the Department of Science and Technology and its partners for winning the right to co-host the the €1.5-billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope.
The SKA Organisation announced on Friday that South Africa and Australia are to share the hosting of the SKA, an instrument 50-100 times more sensitive and 10 000 times faster than any radio imaging telescope yet built.
The two biggest components of the SKA will be built in Africa, while one will be built in Australia. About 70% of the facility will be built in Africa.
“The SKA will significantly support the expansion of South Africa’s knowledge economy in general and high-technology industry specifically,” said the chamber’s CEO, Neren Rau. “The skills transfer will assist in addressing the skills challenge in South Africa.”
Rau said the announcement showed the potential South Africa to play a leading role in science and technology on the global stage.
Sacci said the fact that the project was a collaborative project between South Africa and Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia, was a positive step forward in building stronger research and commercial ties with other African countries.
President Jacob Zuma, in his message of congratulations, said: “Africa is indeed rising. South Africa is confident that the country will deliver on the expectations of the continent and world.”
The SKA will consist of about 3 000 dish-shaped antennae spread over a wide area. Scientists are expected to use the SKA to search the universe for answers about how stars and galaxies were formed and how the universe has evolved over the past 14-billion years.
South Africa is expected to build the telescope in the Karoo in the Northern Cape, while the joint site spreads from the Murchison Shire in Western Australia’s Mid-West region to the top of New Zealand’s South Island.
Building is expected to start around 2016 and the telescope to be completed by 2024.