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Square Kilometre Array Observatory Signs Agreements

October 20, 2021

Department of Science and Innovation

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Observatory has signed agreements with the Australian and South African governments to host its telescopes and associated infrastructures.

In a statement, the science and innovation department pointed out that the documents “formalise arrangements for the construction and operation of the SKA telescopes in the two host countries”.

The Host Country Agreements were signed by SKAO director-general Prof. Philip Diamond, Australia’s David Fredericks, secretary of the department of industry, science energy and resources, and South Africa’s Dr Phil Mjwara, director-general of the science and innovation department, during the 4th meeting of the SKAO Council, the Observatory’s governing body.

The department added that the two documents “set out the rights and responsibilities of each party regarding the sites, assets and infrastructure required to build and operate the SKA telescopes”.

“Among other elements, this includes the respective governments’ obligation to provide radio frequency interference protection for the SKA telescope sites, and the SKAO’s obligation to ensure that its operations meet or exceed local and national health, safety and environmental laws. They also cover the Observatory’s use of infrastructure such as existing airstrips and fibre links.”

“South Africa welcomes the signing of the hosting agreement as this paves the way for the construction of the SKA telescope in the country,” said Dr Phil Mjwara.

“This will bring enormous socio-economic benefits that will result in job-creation, industry development and skills development through our participation in this mega-infrastructure project”, he said.