Home News R2.2bn set aside for SKA project

R2.2bn set aside for SKA project

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The National Advisory Council on Innovation has been commissioned to work on a framework for a new decadal plan

Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

THE SIXTY-fourth dish of the MeerKat, which is part of a broader Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project in the Northern Cape, will be switched on on July 18.

During her budget speech yesterday, Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said details about the launch would be communicated soon as her department recieved confirmation on whether the president would attend.

The date for the switch on, July 18, is former president Nelson Mandela’s birthday.

Kubayi-Ngubane pointed out that her department’s support for Phase One of the SKA radio astronomy project would continue over the next three years, with an amount of R2.2 billion having been set aside.

She said all 42 farm portions required for SKA Phase One had been secured and that R709 million would be allocated to the SKA this year.

The Department of Science and Technology has meanwhile committed itself to targeting programmes that will address transformation through research and development.

“The programmes targeted during this financial year will address transformation, through key research, development and support initiatives,” Kubayi-Ngubane said

“This programme receives an allocation of R4.4 billion.”

She said the programme aimed to award 9 300 bursaries to PhD students and 32 400 bursaries to pipeline postgraduate students.

Her budget vote speech was presented at a time that the department is finalising its White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation.

The National Advisory Council on Innovation has been commissioned to work on a framework for a new decadal plan.

“The premise of the new White Paper is that science, technology and innovation are central to inclusive and sustainable development for shaping a different South Africa.

“More importantly, the White Paper recognises that inclusivity is central to the national system of innovation, both in terms of promoting social justice and of fostering a system in which creativity and learning can flourish,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.

Meanwhile, a further
R1.8 billion has been set aside for the Socio-Economic Innovation Partnerships programme.

“The department will invest R186 million over the next three years – starting with R63 million this year – in targeted research and development to support the next generation of mining.”

She said other initiatives include the department’s Wheat Breeding project, in partnership with Stellenbosch University and Grain SA, which is an initiative that will help the country to reduce its reliance on imports.

According to Grain SA, South Africa currently imports 40 to 50% of the wheat it consumes, to cover an annual average shortfall in production of 1.3 million tons.