South Africa Submits Bid to Host the Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope


The National Research Foundation has submitted on 15 September 2011 the documents supporting the African bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Radio Telescope. The documents are South Africa's response to the Request for Information issued by the international SKA Siting Group in June 2011.

This follows the initial submission of expressions of interest in 2003 and of reports in 2005, which led to South Africa and Australia being shortlisted as both being suitable for the SKA.

The African SKA site bid is led by South Africa's Department of Science and Technology and includes Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Madagascar, Zambia, Mauritius, Kenya and Ghana.

The reports submitted cover a wide range of information - measurements of radio frequency interference and the physical conditions on the core site in the Northern Cape Karoo and the remote sites spread through South Africa and the other partner countries, measurements of the ionosphere and troposphere, analysis of the scientific performance of the array, designs for the roads, buildings and other infrastructure required, proposals for how 105MW of power can be supplied to the core site in the Karoo and how the remote sites can be powered, how the huge amounts of data can be transported from the telescope dishes in the Karoo and other sites to the central computer and then to the control centre in Cape Town and to science centres in other countries around the world, customs and excise duties, work permits and visas, laws affecting how the SKA will operate in South Africa and the other countries, working conditions for a highly skilled workforce of scientists and engineers, the financial and economic system, how security will be provided for the telescope and much else besides.

The South African SKA team has worked closely with telecommunication service providers including Broadband InfraCo, Meraka, Nokia Siemens Networks, Seacom, FibreCo, Muvoni Weltex, EASSY, SIA Solutions and Cisco and with Eskom, the City of Cape Town and Aurecon to come up with robust and cost-effective data transport, power and infrastructure proposals for the telescope.

The team has also had tremendous support from Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), Sentech, the Department of Communications, the Department of Public Enterprise, Vodacom, MTN and the National Association of Broadcasters in designing solutions to reduce radio interference on the site, while still providing services to people in the area.

A great deal of support was also received from South African Revenue Service (SARS), the Reserve Bank, Southern Mapping Geospatial, the HSRC, the Centre for High Performance Computing, the Council for Geosciences, the South Africa Weather Service and many other government departments and service providers in preparing the bid reports. The bid documents represent eight years of work.
The Minister for Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, said "Africa will provide a home for the SKA to do revolutionary science. Our bid is a strong, cost-effective and robust proposal for building the Square Kilometre Array in Africa. Our site is orders of magnitude better than any existing observatory and is protected by the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act.

Our team, with business and industry, has developed excellent solutions for how to provide power, data transport and infrastructure for the telescope very cost effectively. The great progress we have made in building the MeerKAT telescope has won us many friends and has changed the way the international community sees us".
Pandor further added, "Many leading international researchers are now taking up full or part-time positions in our universities and the MeerKAT team. Our Human Capital Programme has won respect around the world.

The excellence of our site has been recognised by the construction and operation of the world-leading PAPER and CBASS telescopes on our site, in which we are collaborating with the leading US institutions.

We are fully committed to the SKA and so are our partners in Africa. Building world-leading science instruments and research in Africa will help us to create the skills, innovation and technology which will underpin our long-term vision for Africa as a leading economic power-house". Pandor also thanked SKA partner governments for their cooperation and assistance.

The bid reports will be evaluated by expert panels and considered by an independent SKA Science Advisory Committee of leading international scientists and science administrators. They may ask for further information or clarification from South Africa and Australia (which has partnered with New Zealand).

SKA South Africa project office representatives will meet this committee in the USA in December. If there are sufficient differences between the two bids, the Committee will aim to make a recommendation on a site by January 2012.

Its recommendation will go to the not-for-profit SKA company which will be established in November, with about fifteen governments as its members. They will consider the recommendation and any other factors they wish to take into account and aim to make a decision by February or March 2012.

Nigeria: Nation Loses N18.9Billion to Foreign Software Licensing - Notap
The National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion has said that Nigeria lost about $118m (N18.9bn) in the last five years as capital flight from locally developed software to the importation of foreign software.

The Head of Media and Public Relations, NOTAP, Adokiye Dagogo-George said while marking the "African Day for Technology and Intellectual Property".
He said in compliance with the resolution made by the African Union, September 13 of every year is set aside by all African countries to arouse the "latent inventive, creative and innovative spirit of Africans in order to facilitate the acceleration of technological development in the continent."

He explained that though there are Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora who have demonstrated ICT capabilities especially in software development, lack of awareness of their breakthroughs has hampered their patronage as all software deployed by the various sectors of the economy, particularly the financial sector were foreign ones.
"It is against this background that NOTAP institutionalized the annual national workshop and exhibition on software licensing and development," he said.

NOTAP was established as an agency of the Federal Ministry of Science Technology to facilitate the acquisition of technology in Nigeria.

The agency has since been implanting the mandate through the evaluation, registration and monitoring of all technology transfer agreements signed by Nigerian entrepreneurs with their foreign technical partners.

NOTAP was to ensure that the terms and conditions of the agreements are equitable, fair and commensurate and aligned with the capacity and capability of the Nigerian Innovation system.

Dagogo-George disclosed that while carrying out its functions and activities, NOTAP makes concerted efforts to promote the development of locally motivated technologies through the linkage of industry with the National Innovation System in the area of scientific Research and Development, promotion of Intellectual Property Rights and commercialization of R&D results.

He said: "NOTAP has, in recent times, established 30 Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Offices (IPTTOs) in research institutes and institutions of higher learning across the country.

"IPTTOs were established in the knowledge centres to encourage market oriented and demand driven research, promote intellectual property protection and strengthen the linkage between industry, universities and research institutes."