Inter-ministerial committee to oversee SKA preparations

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pretoria - Cabinet has approved the establishment of an Inter-Ministerial Committee to oversee the final preparations for the award of the bid for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Radio Telescope.

Government spokesperson Themba Maseko said on Thursday, following an ordinary meeting of Cabinet, that the decision had followed a discussion on the progress of South Africa's bid to host the telescope.

The SKA will be the biggest telescope in the world and will enable South African scientists to conduct breakthrough scientific work. It will be located in the Northern Cape.

To date South Africa and Australia are the only two countries shortlisted to host the SKA and the outcome of the bid will be known in 2011.

South Africa has developed a partnership with eight other African countries to locate an SKA station in each of the country, namely Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.

"The report indicated that the only two remaining bidding countries for the largest radio telescope are South Africa and Australia," said Maseko, adding that this initiative will benefit ICT infrastructure development and post graduate student training in engineering, ICT and astronomy on the continent.

The bid which runs over the course of three years will cost R1.6 billion.