Zuma hails Pandor, SKA team

2012-05-25 22:00

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma congratulated Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor and her team on Friday for winning the right to co-host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope with Australia.

"We are especially proud of winning this bid... on Africa Day," Zuma said in a statement.

"Africa is indeed rising. South Africa is confident that the country will deliver on the expectations of the continent and world."

Zuma said the this achievement was possible because of the African Union's endorsement and support from partner countries including Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia and Zambia.

Earlier, it was announced that the SKA board had decided on a "dual site approach".

"We will be installing equipment in both Australia and South Africa and together they will form part of a global observatory," the French news agency AFP quoted SKA board chairperson John Womersley as saying at a press conference at the Schiphol Airport, in Amsterdam.

"This is a momentous day for South Africa and the continent and will give all of us the possibility to answer fundamental questions in physics, astronomy and cosmology," the African National Congress said.

"It will advance our scientific research capacity as a country and a continent and will also see a lot of foreign direct investment injected into this project, which will go a long way in creating much-needed jobs..."

The ANC said it would also put South Africa in good stead to advance to an inclusive information society.

Cutting-edge investment

Democratic Alliance MP Junita Kloppers-Lourens said the party was disheartened, but not dismayed at the decision.

"Today, Africa Day, we yearned to win the SKA bid to exemplify the African dream outright," she said.

"A draw is no loss, though, and the majority of physical infrastructure in phase one will be built in South Africa."

She said the SKA advisory committee had identified Southern Africa as the preferred site.

"That we will receive the lion's share of the biggest ever scientific project may serve to reverse the trajectory of dead aid that has characterised the African continent and signal a new era of cutting-edge investment that incisively builds our knowledge economy."

Trade union Uasa congratulated Pandor and her team and said that in this venture, South Africa would be at the forefront of technology.

"Waiting for the announcement has been reminiscent of the announcement when we won the bid to host the World Cup in 2010," it said.

"The technical committee, in this instance, did us proud and we are ready to host the world's most powerful radio telescope."

Construction of the SKA is expected to cost about €1.5bn, and the SKA consortium is expected to spend about €100m to €150m a year to operate and maintain the telescope.

A significant portion of the capital, operations and maintenance costs would be spent in the host countries.

Scientific coup

Brand SA congratulated the department on its success.

"We thank the bid committee for giving us and our African partners the platform to bring the stars and the universe closer to the leaders and explorers of tomorrow," CEO Miller Matola said.

"It is really apt to have received the news on Africa Day, a day that celebrates the African continents rich heritage and diversity."

With this, South Africa will foster a culture of co-operation with African consortiums and invest more resources and energy towards promoting strong linkages with Australia, said Matola.

"In addition, the SKA will bring advancements of astro-sciences to both countries and facilitate knowledge sharing between young and older astronomy and cosmology experts."

The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) said this was a proud moment for the country.

"This is a major scientific coup for South Africa and will serve as a key research advantage to the entire scientific community," it said.

"We believe that the SKA will be the most powerful major radio astronomy programme in the 21st Century that will allow us not only to understand the physics and the evolution of the universe and its structures, but also new aspects of astrophysics..."

New opportunities would now open for South African scientists to collaborate with some of the best scientists in Australia and the world, it said.

The SKA will be 50 times more sensitive than the most powerful telescopes presently available.

AFP said the contract, estimated at $2bn, would increase in cost because of the split location.

  • Adil Smit - 2012-05-25 22:16

    Well done, Mrs Pandor.

      TSOTSI Smilification - 2012-05-26 00:07

      Shm... The west have not forgotten us... I suppose 2/3rd's isnt that bad. Hey, this means if SA starts to collapse into a banana republic Zimbabwe style, Europe would take notice somewhat faster... :)

      Koos - 2012-05-26 07:32

      It is not only SA that is involved with this in Africa. It is going all the way up to Ghana.

  • mthokozisi.madlala.7 - 2012-05-25 22:18

    Well done Africa....I am proud of being an African!!

      Jacqui - 2012-05-26 12:28

      Mthokozisi, a child's hand is easily filled.

      Saleé Sithwell - 2012-05-26 12:52

      Of course, Jacqui. And this time around, we are happy to be like children. Humble enough to accept this great honour - just like we did with the world cup.

  • Bokfan - 2012-05-25 22:50

    Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Viva Mzansi Viva those who want to be number 1 viva those who want to work and want to achieve.Vivaaaaaa

  • Bokfan - 2012-05-25 22:59

    Sorry folks this is possibly a bit off topic. But......... one of the really carp legacies of the old school has been seriously rubbish management processes. Lets hope that this really big chance to shine will not be effed up by lousy historical hangovers.

  • Gerald Jordaan - 2012-05-26 02:05

    The Zoomer is confident that S A will deliver!! ja well no they can't even deliver on providing a post box because WE DONT HAVE LOCKS!! Hahahahahahahahaha!!

      Saleé - 2012-05-26 02:36

      Funny that Zuma says "South Africa" will deliver; and you decide to use the word "they", as if you aren't South African. You shouldn't let the ANC rule over your mind like this. This is a South African victory.

      Jacqui - 2012-05-26 12:33

      It is not a South African victory. They take geography and space in consideration where these dishes can be placed at little cost. Since South Africa is so keen to play a part internationally, they lobbied and was chosen. Have we heard what this is going to cost every year?.

      Saleé Sithwell - 2012-05-26 12:44

      @Jacqui - that's exactly the point. Just think about what you said for second and then, try again.

      Saleé Sithwell - 2012-05-26 12:50

      And while you are at it, visit the SKA and read up on the criteria a little. I think you risk speaking from a position of ignorance.

      Saleé Sithwell - 2012-05-26 12:50


      Saleé - 2012-05-26 14:56

      Quoting an Astralian publication: - In a snub to Australian science, South Africa will host the bulk of the Square Kilometre Array. Couldn't have said it better! SA wins, technically and otherwise.

  • Brent - 2012-05-26 07:36

    The resason it is split is that when zoomer,juliearse and their cronies mess this up with the common infeciencies there will still be a working telescope in Australia. I wonder which BEE consortium is going to be over budget on the building of the SKA. Should we launch an enquiry now to speed up the process.

      James - 2012-05-26 08:01

      Listening to BBC last night, the presenter made it very clear that the only reason that Australia and New Zealand got 1/3 of the project was that they cried about how much money they had put in to their bid presentation and got nothing out of it. The SKA advisory committee had identified the SA bid as the preferred one (Technically superior, already running the MEERKAT project.) Australia and New Zealand were apparently a bit backward (old school) in their bid. SA should have been announced the winners about three months ago after the advisory committee were unanimous in their support for the SA bid. Australia cried foul and then sought a political decision. Anyway SA has 2/3 of the project, and backward Australia and New Zealand 1/3. This coming after a Pretoria Boys High School old boy docked his DragonX with the space station. GO SA.

      James - 2012-05-26 08:08

      BTW, it must burn your butt that just after packing for perth, SA is deemed to be technically superior to Australia when it comes to the sciences.

      Jacqui - 2012-05-26 12:34

      James, burning your butt after absconding to Perth?. What a silly and spiteful remark.

      Saleé - 2012-05-26 14:57

      Yes, @James - even Australia knows the truth - - "In a snub to Australian science, South Africa will host the bulk of the Square Kilometre Array."

      James - 2012-05-26 15:58

      @jacqui. Brent runs away to perth and lobs stupid remarks in South Africa's direction. Who is the spiteful one. I see the on of your interests page is the Body Brain Performance Institute. I hope the body side works better than the brain side of the institute.

  • makondon - 2012-05-26 08:07

    Congratulation to DST for the sterling work. It been a whole nine years of waiting and hardwork. In preparation of SKA South Afrika has already already built high tech infrastructure, for example KAT-7, MeerKAT, SALT and SANREN. So in essence we have already delivered and we will continue delivering on this massive project for the future of Afrika and the world. I am proudly South Afrikan.

  • Hugh - 2012-05-26 08:14

    Sorry but we must look at the reality not the spin. Pandor may be taking the accolades but the whole bang shoot rests on the shoulders of those few remaining scientists and engineers. Exactly how this is to benifit south africa permanent job creation wise is another matter. Likely as in so many cases 85% of the infrustucture will be imported.

      Jacqui - 2012-05-26 12:37

      Tebogo we are not constantly negative, we are realists. We are all hoping that this project will put Soutn Africa in a good light overseas. We are all hoping that many will find work there and we are all hoping thagt the right people will get the credit.

      Saleé Sithwell - 2012-05-26 12:48

      No Jacqui - we are hoping the project will advance sciences in South Africa and in rest of the world. Being seen in a good light overseas is an added bonus,which, dare I say, is already ticked, seeing as the member states gave it to us.

      Bruce - 2012-05-26 14:32

      Since we are always on the race card, has anyone checked on the race of the scientists? Maybe most of them should leave and go to where they came from?

      James - 2012-05-26 16:00

      @ Bruce. and the reason for that remark is? Please clarify.

  • Tebogo Thape - 2012-05-26 08:45

    some of you people should really stop with this constant negativity...not everything is about Zuma or ANC. this is the proud moment for all of us and lets just embrace it as one and as South Africans. Congrats to Mrs.Pandor and the Team!

  • Jacqui - 2012-05-26 12:27

    Of course Zuma hails Pandor. She did it ALL by herself, not another being, human or otherwise, involved any where. Since we all remember the mess she made of education we all know her input would have been minimal. Geez

      Saleé Sithwell - 2012-05-26 12:56

      Don't try sarcasm is you don't have the smarties to pull it off. If Pandor does not deserve to take all the credit for SKA (which is true, by the way), then you can't use that point to show that she single-handedly destroyed our education (which, is also true).

  • Bruce - 2012-05-26 14:28

    And that from a man who reckons we don't need investment from the west............

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