Since 2005, the African Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Human Capital Development Programme has awarded close to 600 grants (2014) for studies in astronomy and engineering from undergraduate to post-doctoral level, while also investing in training programmes for technicians. Astronomy courses are being taught as a result of the SKA Africa project in Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius (which has had a radio telescope for many years) and are soon to start in other countries.
The Square Kilometre Array has its headquarters at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK was established as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the eleven international partners and to centralise the leadership of the project.
South Africa has already demonstrated its excellent science and engineering skills by designing and building the MeerKAT telescope as a pathfinder to the SKA. MeerKAT is attracting great interest internationally, more than 500 international astronomers and 58 from Africa submitted proposals to do science with MeerKAT once it is complete. The world can expect extremely fast computing, data transport, large networks of sensors, software radios and imaging algorithms. Signature Africa Network spoke to Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science & Technology in South Africa and Colm McGivern, Director British Council in South Africa about the significance of an international project of this scale and magnitude being in Africa as well as its impact on humanity and the globe as a whole.