‘Celebrations are in order’

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Johannesburg - The trade union Uasa congratulated Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor and her team on Friday for securing South Africa as a location for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope.

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,” Uasa said in a statement.

“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 Euro 1.5 billion.

Although the location of the telescope would be shared with Australia, South Africa's economy would receive a boost.

The SKA consortium would spend an estimated Euro 100m to Euro 150m a year to operate and maintain the telescope, Uasa said.

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

“Celebrations are in order, as the announcement coincides with our celebrating of Africa Day today.”

Earlier, AFP reported that South Africa would share the SKA location with Australia.

“We have decided on a dual site approach,” AFP reported SKA board chairman John Womersley saying at a press conference at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, following a meeting of the SKA organisation's members in the Dutch capital.

“We will be installing equipment in both Australia and South Africa and together they will form part of a global observatory,” he said.

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

AFP said the contract, estimated at US2 billion, would now increase in cost.

Womersley told AFP the dual site made the best use of the “significant investments” both countries had made in astronomy. - Sapa

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