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Northern Cape’s heaven-sent opportunity

The Square Kilometre Array radio telescope has changed the face of a small Karoo town.

Major developments are set to take place in Carnarvon in the Northern Cape when scientists and researchers from across the world flock to the small town for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope. 

“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 so there is immense opportunity,” said Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor.

The minister was addressing a community imbizo to engage residents on issues relating to science and technology and the socio-economic challenges they face.

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

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

Dingaan Baartman, a beneficiary of the project is part of the maintenance team at the SKA and is making the most of the opportunity.
"This programme helped me a lot. It taught me a lot about the electrical side," he said.

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

The SKA will be the biggest radio telescope in the world and it will position the Northern Cape as a knowledge hub for astronomy 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’.”

Minister Pandor said government is committed to creating conditions for a better life for South Africans.

“Government cannot work without your support. We need you as partners in mobilising society for change, in mobilising for a better life for all.”

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