Business congratulates SKA team

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pretoria - The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) on Monday congratulated the Department of Science and Technology and its partners for winning the right to co-host the coveted Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope.

The SKA Organisation on Friday announced that South Africa and Australia are to share the hosting of the most advanced scientific project. 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. The skills transfer will assist in addressing the skills challenge in South Africa," said the chamber's CEO Neren Rau.

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 also congratulated the department.

"Africa is indeed rising. South Africa is confident that the country will deliver on the expectations of the continent and world," Zuma said.

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 are formed and how galaxies and the universe have 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.