Zambian Minister of Education South African Satellite Project

This week Zambia’s Minister of Education Michael Kaingu made a visit to the planned site of the leading scientific research facility in South Africa, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

The Honourable Minister Kaingu’s visit to the site relates to an agreement to allow Zambian scientists, researchers, and students access to the future facility to take part in the historic project.

According to a press release from the Zambian High Commission to South Africa, Dr. Kaingu attended the Second Ministerial Meeting of the SKA Africa Partner Countries which closed in Pretoria on Wednesday.

Dr. Kaingu said the SKA project will contribute to human capital development through training in cutting-edge technology that will be required during the construction process and manning of what will be the world’s largest radio telescope.

Zambia, like other participating countries in Africa, will send young scientists to South Africa for training so that they are equipped with the requisite skills to effectively participate in the project.

The minister said he will galvanise universities in Zambia and other stakeholders such as the Zambia Telecommunications Company (ZAMTEL) and Zambia Information and Technology Authority (ZICTA) so that they could participate in sending scientists to South Africa.

“This project is important to Africa as it will help our researchers with data especially for those countries with shortages of academic staff,” Dr. Kaingu said.

Dr. Kaingu said he will be circulating the outcomes of the meeting to Cabinet for further discussion.

In line with the programme being executed under the SKA project, each partner will develop individual satellite dishes which will be brought onto one network connecting to a central satellite dish.

Dr. Kaingu disclosed that Zambia has already started working on this and has since identified a 25 hectare piece of land in North-Western province on which the satellite dish will be built. He said work to convert the Mwembeshi satellite dish into a radio astronomy facility was also progressing well. The dish has to undergo this conversion for it to be suitable for the uses.

The SKA is a project supported by 10 partner countries to build a series of radio telescope satellites across an entire kilometre area in South Africa and Australia that will be 50 times more powerful than any other radio signal, allowing scientists to explore fundamental questions about the origin and evolution of the Universe. Construction is due to begin in 2018. On completion, the total signal-collecting area of all the dishes, about 3 000 of them, will add up to a square kilometre.