SKA to bring business, jobs to the Northern Cape

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor says the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope will bring major development to Carnarvon when scientists and researchers from around the world flock to the small Karoo town.

The Minister said this when she addressed a community imbizo at the Carnarvon Town Hall on Saturday.

“Hundreds of scientists are going to come to use the telescope and they will need to be supported, to be accommodated, to be looked after and we are going to need appropriate facilities for them in these towns so there is immense opportunity,” she said.

The Minister visited Carnarvon to open a road and a training centre as well as hold a community imbizo to engage residents on issues relating to science and technology and the socio-economic challenges faced by residents.

She also took stock of community development initiatives led by SKA South Africa and on how they had improved the lives of community members. 

She said Carnarvon, Williston and other surrounding towns would benefit from educational and economic opportunities once research commences at the radio telescope.

The SKA is supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The project has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions from across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope, the Minister said.

The construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.

Minister Pandor said the SKA will be the biggest radio telescope in the world and it will position the Northern Cape as a knowledge hub for astronomical research.

“Scientists will use the SKA to try and understand how the universe evolved, how stars and galaxies form and change, as well as unravelling the mysteries of “dark matter” and “dark energy”.

“Scientists expect that the SKA will make new discoveries unimaginable at present.”

Addressing residents, the Minister said government is committed to creating conditions for a better life for all.

“Government cannot work without your support. We need you as partners in mobilising society for change, in mobilising for a better life for all. We are here to persuade you that you have a critical role to play in changing your lives with government support and assistance,” she said.

The Minister told the Carnarvon residents to be active in building a new and thriving society in which every person can make a difference.

The SKA site is currently a hive of activity as teams of contractors prepare the infrastructure for MeerKAT, the telescope precursor to SKA.

“They are building roads, dish manufacturing sheds, antenna foundations, and installing the electrical and fibre-ducting reticulation network,” said the Minister. – SAnews.gov.za

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