Regional News of Monday, 28 October 2013
A team of seven Ghanaian research scientists, electronic technologists and mechanical engineers, have began training in South Africa on the independent operation and maintenance of radio telescopes on the continent.
This represents the first technical team from Africa to receive training as part of the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) programme.
The project is a collaboration between Ghana Space Sciences and Technology Institute of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Ministries of Science and Technology Innovation in Ghana and South Africa, National Science Foundation, and Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
The aim of the programme is to create a network of radio telescopes among the SKA SA African partner countries, namely, Ghana, Botswana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.
"The training programme marks the start of a programme to strengthen African technical capability and a holistic approach to human capital development for radio astronomy,” the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Michael Masutha said at a launch of the project at MeerKAT Headquarters in Pinelands, Cape Town.
“Involving the African partner countries in the AVN training programme is a means of ensuring that Africa is capacitated and ready for hosting the SKA.”
Masutha said the training project would establish strong collaborative Africa-Europe network in science and engineering and would deliver practical training and hands-on experiences that would enthuse a new generation of scientists and engineers on the continent.
Anita Loots, Associate Director at SKA SA said: “We hope that up to 70 individuals from the eight SKA partner countries could be trained in the same way over the next few years.”
“The training programme itself is a world first. It is a combination of engineering and scientific skills development across disciplines, which will equip teams with a thorough understanding of their own instruments,” she said.
Part of the programme uses animations to explain important engineering concepts, and the trainees will be able to use these back in Ghana to train their colleagues, says Loots.
“We are working together to maximise the benefits of participating in SKA activities for Africa as a whole, as well as the sustainability of radio astronomy in the region.”
Madam Joyce Koranteng-Acquah, Leader of the team and Research Scientist at GAEC, indicated that the SKA is set to improve the lives of the average Ghanaian through the provision of jobs, enhance infrastructure in science, technology and boost tourism.
She expressed optimism that the training regime would equip the team with the requisite skills to coordinate and consolidate the gains of Ghana Radio Astronomy Project.
The team would focus on the basics of radio telescope systems at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory at, SKA offices and the development of local telescope systems in the next two-to-six months, according to SKA South Africa release made available to the Ghana News Agency.
The team members are; Mr Theophilus Ansah-Narh, Mr Felix Tetteh Madjitey, Mr Emmanuel Proven Adzri; all research scientists, Mr Joseph Nsor and Mr Emmanuel K. Monroh, both electronic technologists and Mr Severin Azakpo, Mechanical Engineer.