SKA funding, hosting talks continue

2012-10-10 09:15
President Jacob Zuma visits the Square Kilometre Array site in Carnarvon in the Northern Cape. (Picture: Sapa)

President Jacob Zuma visits the Square Kilometre Array site in Carnarvon in the Northern Cape. (Picture: Sapa)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Carnarvon - Intense negotiations continue after South Africa won its bid to host the massive Square Kilometre Array telescope, the organisation has revealed.

“If you thought we were finished negotiating when we finished negotiating the site, well, that wasn’t the case. The two key agreements we’re busy with now are the funding agreement and the hosting agreement,” Dr Bernie Fanaroff, SKA South Africa project director told News24.

Negotiations around the hosting duties of countries have to be finalised and policies on customs for equipment as well as the issues for visas for staff still need to be hammered out.

“We’re having to discuss with them who will own the site; who will own the telescope; what is the time scale for them moving onto the site; how will we hand over control of the MeerKAT, for instance,” said Fanaroff.

The MeerKAT will consist of 64 radio telescopes that are closely aligned to the design specifications of the SKA, and will eventually be absorbed into Phase I of the project which will consist of 250 instruments.


The global financial meltdown has also had an impact on funding for the science project. Member countries of the SKA have committed to financing the project, but many have opted to contribute in kind rather than in cash.

The board however has insisted that a cash contribution should be made to guarantee that the SKA will be built on time. The project is estimated to cost around €1.5bn (R16.7bn).

“The funding agreement is a big issue: All of the countries now are having to commit themselves to what part of the total cost of the SKA they’ll pay. And of course, everyone at this stage is in financial stringency, so they’re all trying to put as much, but as little in as they can,” Fanaroff said.

The negotiations have become particularly sensitive as contributing countries demand contracts for their industries.

“What is also becoming clear is that all of the governments that are putting money in are also saying: ‘We want to get contracts for our industry.’ So there’ll be negotiations over procurement.

“We’re confident that a lot of the contracts will come to our own industry, but of course every government wants to get some contracts,” Fanaroff insisted.

He cautioned South Africans against expectations of high-speed delivery of the project as much of the technology required to make the SKA feasible does not yet exist.


“I think the realisation has now come to people that this is a project that is much, much bigger than anything that has been built before.

“The world’s fastest computers now operate at a petaflop per second. To handle the SKA data, you’ll have to work at an exaflop per second, which is a thousand times faster,” Fanaroff said.

Additionally, once technological solutions are scaled up to SKA performance specification, management of the hardware in a way that does not affect the integrity of the data becomes critical.

Thousands of processors could demand huge power consumption and increase the failure rate.

“The other problem is programming: There’re new kinds of programming required because these things don’t just run sequentially; you’re running on all these processes together and the problems of programming haven’t been solved yet,” said Fanaroff.

Read more on:    kimberley  |  astronomy  |  ska  |  technology

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Solidarity urges members to vote

The Solidarity Movement has urged its members and supporters to vote in the 7 May general election.


Latest elections multimedia

11 Julius Malema quotes you'll never forget
DA won't get 30% - Zille
The EFF's ad was banned, see why
Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
  • Tuesday Century City - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Ratanga Road Southbound
    ROADWORKS - lane closure between Ocean Spirit Avenue and Century Boulevard (until mid April)
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Spine Road
    ROAD CLOSED between Weltevreden Drive and Seafarer Drive due to roadworks (until mid April)
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Welcome on board the 24 hour sale on books!

Today only, buy 1 book and get 1 FREE on the top 100 books. Offer expires midnight 23 April. While stocks last. Shop now!

Get 50% off selected books!

Buy 2 books and get 50% off the second book. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mother’s Day special offers!

Spoil mom with these awesome specials that will warm her heart. Shop now!

Twisp – the smoking alternative

Buy any 2 refills for R250 and save R149. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9790

Bold Design The BlackBerry Bold 9790 smartphone combines the iconic BlackBerry...

From R2979.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be constantly on the move, working too hard, networking and making sure everything is working and everyone is satisfied, more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.