President Jacob Zuma has outlined the technology benefits that would flow for Africa if SA were to beat Australia to host a multibillion-rand astronomy project known as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
If SA wins the bid, the SKA, which will allow astronomers to peer back in time almost to the birth of the universe, will be built in a remote section of the Northern Cape, away from radio frequency interference.
In a speech prepared for delivery at a session of the African Union Heads of State and Government Assembly being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Zuma said that if SA won the bid to host the radio telescope, other parts of Africa would also reap the benefits.
“Hosting the SKA will underscore Africa’s capability in science and innovation,” he said.
Though the central location would be in the Northern Cape in SA, remote stations would be hosted in Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Mauritius, Madagascar, Kenya, Ghana and Zambia.
Zuma said the enormous investment in infrastructure would also contribute to economic growth in the region. “The requirement for ultra-high speed Internet across Africa to operate the SKA will lead to improved ICT infrastructure and access for millions of people.”
Scientists wanted to use the radio telescope to study emissions generated when the first stars and galaxies were formed, some 750m years after the big bang that gave birth to the universe 14bn years ago.
The announcement of the choice of site is expected between 2011 and 2012, and construction is scheduled to start in 2013. — Sapa
- Image credit: World Economic Forum