Zuma to visit SKA site

President Jacob Zuma will visit the Square Kilometre Array site in the Karoo on Tuesday.

An artists impression of SKA dishes. Picture: ska.ac.za

CARNARVON, Northern Cape - President Jacob Zuma is expected to visit the Square Kilometre Array site in the Karoo on Tuesday, four months after South Africa won the lion's share of the multi-billion rand project.

The SKA, to be shared with Australia, will be the world's most powerful radio telescope - with construction due to begin in 2016.

Today will be the first time Zuma visits the site, and he will be accompanied by newly appointed Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom, as well as his predecessor Naledi Pandor.

Yesterday, Hanekom said today's visit was big news for the small towns around the SKA site.

"It's not often that a president comes to visit an area like this, so there's a tremendous excitement in the district.

"And I think now, for the first time, people are getting the sense that this is real," Hanekom added.

Pandor oversaw much of South Africa's bid for the SKA, and said this was a proud moment.

"I'm really thrilled we're going to have an opportunity to share, with residents and the president, our dream."

Zuma will be shown the dishes already built at the site, and will then meet residents to discuss the project and its benefits.