South Africa’s International Relations, Minister Naledi Pandor, on Monday, June 24 signed a partnership agreement with Beijing on the sidelines of the ongoing China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Coordinators’ Meeting.
Pandor, who is leading the South African delegation to the Forum, held a bilateral meeting with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi (State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs) in Beijing, prior to meeting with senior personnel from the Astronomy Institute of China.
The bilateral agreement serves as a working framework for the Chinese entities to partner with South Africa on the Square Kilometre Array project.
Commenting on the agreement, Pandor said: “What’s really important is for China to partner with South Africa and many other countries across the world in the Square Kilometre Array. The Astronomy Institute of China has signed the agreement, and it’s a commitment to fully participate in the process of building this mega radio telescope.”
“We are also going to see young people from South Africa coming to China for postgraduate studies in astronomy sciences, in astrophysics, in mathematics and engineering,” she added.
The bilateral agreement heralded the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the South African Radio Astronomy Observation (SARAO) and National Astronomical Observatory, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in respect of the Radio Astronomy Research Exchange Programme.
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international collaboration to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area. The project is an international collaboration between 13 national members, with Australia, South Africa and the UK as host countries
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Analyst at Space in Africa. His experience spans industry research and market analysis with a focus on African-grown NewSpace companies, commercial space industry, national space programmes and real-life application of space science for sustainable development in Africa.