The Minister of Infrastructure Science and Technology (MIST), Johnie Swartz, has called on South Africa to develop and share a communication strategy for the Square Kilometer Array( SKA) project to ensure the consortium is well informed on the developments taking place at all times.
Swartz was speaking on Friday last week in a meeting with South African Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom, to chart the way forward for the SKA project.
“Botswana officials are more often than not in the dark on the status, which can jeopardise implementation nationally if we do not have answers readily available when we are required to brief our nation,” said Swartz.
He added that failure to share and communicate key information about the project may lead to situations where all the invested resources and time may come to nothing as project key stakeholders adopt a wait and see attitude due to lack of project ownership.
Botswana forms part of the group together with Ghana, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, and Namibia and Zambia in the implementation of the SKA project.
In addition Swartz said the bilateral cooperation on Science and Technology and Innovation between the two Ministries had been stalled due to various reasons.
“I am pleased to inform you that in August 2012 we launched our Revised Research Science Technology and Innovation Policy which was approved by Cabinet and Parliament in 2011. This milestone facilitates and paves the way for my country to implement the bilateral cooperation as we have now defined our aspiration of where we want to go in the area of Research, Science, Technology and Innovation through this policy,” said Swartz.
As stated by the two ministers, it is their expectation that through the bilateral agreement, a number of South African institutions will be collaborating with Botswana institutions in several areas that include space sciences, water, mining, energy, biotechnology, and ICT among others.
“I look forward to such collaboration and I am hopeful that it will yield good results for the benefit of the two countries,” said Swartz. Botswana has three students studying in South Africa and they are expected to complete their studies in 2015.
Swartz said Botswana managed to secure a dish from the Botswana Telecommunication Corporation to convert to a telescope for teaching and research purposes.
“I have been assured that the SKA experts will be working with our staff in Botswana to convert the dish to facilitate our development towards the field of Radio astrology.”
The SKA will be implemented in two phases with the first phase envisaged to start in 2016 to 2024. The expectation is that there will be activities that Botswana would participate in even during this phase.