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Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development (MIH)
The Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology hosted his South African counterpart, Hon. Naledi Pandor on 29 April 2011.

The Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology hosted his South African counterpart, Hon. Naledi Pandor on 29 April 2011. Minister Pandor who was accompanied by the South African High commissioner to Botswana and other South African senior government officials from the Ministry of Science and Technology, had come to brief him on the progress made thus far on South Africa’s bid to host the world’s largest radio telescope. This is commonly known as the Square Kilometer Array (SKA Project). South Africa is competing against Australia in this endeavor.

She said her country was ready to start this historic project as a site has already been identified where the radio telescope will be built if South Africa wins the bid. She also mentioned that South Africa has already started equipping and capacitating its nine partner countries that will help it host this world project. The nine countries include Botswana, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zambia, Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia and others. Most of these countries have no experts in the field of Astronomy. South Africa has pledged to make available 2 million Rands per year for four years, as scholarships for Batswana students wishing to pursue fields in radio telescope, astronomy and other science and technology courses relating to the study of the universe. Some adverts for such scholarships have already been floated in local newspapers for interested Batswana students to apply.

For his part, Minister Swartz said Botswana is fully behind the South African bid to host the SKA as this has been sanctioned by cabinet. He also encouraged the officials from both Botswana and South Africa to meet more often in order to finish all the preparations that need to be done to put South Africa in a better position to win the bid to host the SKA project. Minister Swartz also assured Hon. Pandor that Botswana has already identified some areas where the satellite telescopes that are earmarked for Botswana could be located, should South Africa win the bid.

The decision on which country between South Africa and Australia, will host the SKA project will be taken in June 2012. The African Union has already endorsed South Africa’s bid and declared it an African bid. The Project will allow South Africa and the region to be able to gather information about the universe in time and prepare itself for any forthcoming natural eventuality. This will help improve scientific knowledge and further boost the country’s expertise in fields dealing with understanding and interpreting the universe. It is also expected that this will help get answers for many questions that are always being asked about the universe, the stars, the moon, the sun and related objects, including providing answers to questions yet to be asked.

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