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SA signs treaty establishing NC SKA as intergovernmental organisation

South Africa is collaborating with Britain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia and China to construct the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope.

Seven countries, including South Africa, have signed a convention to create the Square Kilometre Array Observatory. Picture: @dstgovza/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN – Carnarvon’s Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope has become the world’s second intergovernmental project dedicated to astronomy.

This after seven countries, including South Africa, signed the “Rome Convention” treaty in Italy on Tuesday.

The other intergovernmental astronomy initiative is the European Southern Observatory in Germany.

South Africa is collaborating with Britain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia and China to construct the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope.

Contracts worth around R11.5 billion will now be made available from late 2020.

Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said more than a thousand engineers and scientists in 20 countries have been involved in designing the SKA over the past five years.

“We’re establishing a legal organisation that will govern the workaround Square Kilometre Array building, exchange of information and usage of the observation.”

The SKA project has unleashed new research programmes, educational initiatives and collaborations to train the next generation of scientists.

In 2018, the precursor to the SKA, the MeerKAT radio telescope, comprising 64 satellite dishes, was completed.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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