Plans to use African Renaissance Fund to build more telescopes

Friday, August 25, 2017

International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers says there are indications that an application will be made to the African Renaissance Fund to build radio telescopes in African states that are part of the Square Kilometre Array project.

The Deputy Minister said this shortly after Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo launched the Ghana Radio Astronomy Observatory in Kuntunse in Ghana on Thursday.

The African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund and the Department of Science and Technology channelled R122 million to convert a redundant telecommunications antenna into a radio telescope.

The Renaissance fund is administered by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

The Ghana radio telescope is the first of its kind in the African continent outside of South Africa.

“Well, the project is run by Minister Naledi Pandor’s department and her Ministry and so they will take the lead and guide us.

“She has intimated in her speeches over the last two days that she intends approaching the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation in South Africa for additional funding.

“I am in favour of that because it doesn’t end here, it goes on,” the Deputy Minister said.

The Deputy Minister’s remarks comes as Minister Pandor gave an indication that other members – Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Magadascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia – were also making moves to build their own radio telescopes.

He said most of the member countries have indicated that they do not have the resources needed to build the radio telescopes.

“Regrettably, member states or the participating states in this project are somewhat embarrassed in terms of resources and so that came out during the course.

“So we will have to look very seriously at assisting them even further through the fund and other means as well,” he said.

Together, the member countries will, once their radio telescopes have been commissioned, be part of the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) Network (AVN), an Africa-owned network of VLBI-capable radio telescopes that will link up with other telescope from the European network.

Deputy Minister Landers said, meanwhile, that he was glad to see the project being completed.

“It is inspiring because it shows … how the purpose and the objectives of the fund can be achieved.

“The fund was established by statute and if you read the statute it says that it is designed for [events] like the one that happened in Sierra Leone the other day with the land slide.

“Essentially over the years, that has been its purpose and we have been agitating for some time now for the fund to be used for projects such as this so that in years to come you can look back and say yes, that is where the fund was used and we take nothing away from using it in places like Sierra Leone. Certainly that is very important.

“But certainly, over a very long term, projects such as the SKA I think will help you understand why the fund is there and what it should be used for.” –



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