South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Mauritius, Ghana, Madagascar, Zambia, Botswana and host Kenya have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in radio astronomy by constructing and using the Longonot earth station to co-host the largest radio telescope in the world.
The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) expected to commence in 2016 and be completed by 2024. The cost of the construction of the telescope is estimated to be about 1.5billion Euros (Ksh 170 billion).
The countries aim to share cost estimates and plan on how to set up the project.
Education, Science and Technology Principal Secretary Prof. Jacob Kaimenyi noted that this partnership has effectively enhanced awareness around the requirements for hosting radio astronomy instrumentation and the associated benefits that could be derived in making such commitments. He noted that the SKA is expected to bring notable benefits and large capital investments including new job opportunities, increased business opportunity for local industries during and after the construction.
Earlier, according to SKA Telescope, South Africa was alone in hosting components for the SKA until Kenya and the seven more partner countries around the African continent will also have radio telescopes contributing to the network that will provide scientists with the worlds most advanced radio astronomy array.
SKA wrote earlier said South Africa is already host to KAT7 telescope array, an important testing ground for initially the MeerKAT telescope array, a 64 dish system which will form a precursor to the full SKA Telescope. In SKA Phase one, the addition of 190 SKA dish antennas will expand the 64-dish MeerKAT precursor array which is currently in development and expected to come online in a few years time.
Phase two SKA will host the mid frequency aperture array antennas, expected to be completed and fully operational by the early 2020s. This will complete the SKA and give South Africa a world leading position in scientific exploration.