Renewed enthusiasm for SKA project

Derek Hanekom says the SKA partner countries have agreed to meet more often to track progress.

An artists impression of SKA dishes, close up. Picture:

JOHANNESBURG - Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom on Wednesday said South Africa's eight Square Kilometre Array (SKA) partner countries have expressed renewed commitment and enthusiasm.

The lion's share of the SKA, the world's most powerful radio telescope, is being built in the Karoo.

Once operational, the telescope could help answer some of the most fundamental questions about the birth of the universe and humanity.

Hanekom met with ministers and deputy ministers of the partner countries earlier this week ahead of Thursday's launch of the first antenna of the MeerKAT .

During the SKA bidding battle, concerns were raised about whether South Africa's partner countries would be able to deliver and host their portions of the project.

Hanekom says all countries are excited and committed.

"The most important thing to come out of this meeting is strongly proclaimed support and commitment to the realisation of this project."

He says the nine African countries have agreed to meet more often to track progress.