The leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament, Fiona Hall, has spoken out in favour of a group of nine African countries (South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Mauritius, Madagascar, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique) to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the world’s biggest radio telescope.
Co-author of a Written Declaration on science capacity building in Africa, Ms Hall is calling on her fellow MEPs to step up support for scientific partnerships between Europe and Africa, in particular current radio astronomy projects. She said:
“Science projects in Africa can provide an important contribution towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals and bridging the traditional divide between developed and developing economies.
“Africa as a continent has a competitive advantage in the study of radio astronomy because of its astronomically “rich” southern sky, low levels of radio frequency interference, and very little light pollution.
“Europe and Africa can both benefit from a close cooperation in the field of radio astronomy. While European research groups can make use of the ideal surroundings, African countries profit by developing human capital and driving forward socioeconomic change.”
In the Written Declaration MEPs urge for the promotion of radio astronomy in future Africa-EU partnerships, and encourage development of science capacity in Africa through greater mobilisation of EU funding mechanisms and investment in research infrastructures.
Note to editors
The Written Declaration no. 45/2011 on Science Capacity Building in Africa: promoting European African radio astronomy partnerships is open for signatures until February 16 2012.
Africa already hosts some of the world’s most exciting astronomy facilities, including the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), the Gamma Ray telescope HESS in Namibia and the Astronomy Development Office of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Now South Africa is building one of the world’s largest radio telescope arrays, MeerKAT, which is already in use by the international astronomy community.
More information on Africa Europe Astronomy Partnership initiative can be found at http://www.astroafricaeu.com