(Xinhua) -- The nine African countries
partnering on the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) and African Very
Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) projects are making
significant progress, according to a joint statement on
Ministers and senior officials responsible
for science and technology in the partner countries concluded
the 5th Ministerial Forum Meeting on the SKA/ AVN in Cape Town,
South Africa, on Oct. 16, according to the statement made
available here by Namibia’s Ministry of Higher Education,
Training and Innovation.
The SKA will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio
The total collecting area will be approximately one square
km, giving 50 times the sensitivity and 10,000 times the survey
speed of the best current-day telescopes, the statement said.
The AVN project aims to establish self-sufficient radio
telescopes in Africa through the conversion of redundant
telecommunication antennas into radio telescopes, adaptation of
existing training telescopes, or the construction of new
The meeting brought together science and technology ministers
and senior officials from Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar,
Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.
According to the statement, while all the member countries
highlighted financial constraints as a major obstacle to the
full roll-out of the AVN project, they were unanimous that
progress was being made.
"Partner countries particularly welcomed the positive results
of the SKA Human Capital Development (HCD) program," the
The statement said that ministers noted the importance of the
Big Data Africa project for both astronomy as well as more
general preparations for the fourth industrial revolution.
"Given the significance of big data and cyber infrastructure
in economic development at both national and regional level, it
was agreed that South Africa and Namibia would explore ways of
integrating the Big Data Africa activities in southern Africa
into the SADC Industrialization Strategy, taking into account
prior work within SADC, and liaising with the other members of
SADC," the statement said, referring to the Southern African
Meanwhile, Kenya will explore a similar intervention in east
Africa, and Ghana in west Africa.
It was recommended that this work be presented to the African
Union through the intervention of the ministers.
The meeting also congratulated the team, led by South Africa,
that successfully bid for the International Astronomical Union’s
2024 General Assembly, to be held in Africa for the first time.
Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is large multi radio telescope
project proposed to be built in Australia and South Africa