Oct 19, 2007
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Makwetla: Forty cars powered by only by sunshine – will race from Johannesburg to Cape Town next year. Is this a new era of “green” motor racing?
Creamer: Stand aside Louis Hamilton, the future of motor racing could be green. Well, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. It is starting off very small and 40 cars will race between Johannesburg and Cape Town and back and they will be powered by nothing else but sunpower. This is the South African Solar Challenge, which they are hoping to be a biennial event. Already we have the World Solar Challenge in Australia that has been going on for 20-years so there is a basis on which this is being built and cooperation is being received from not only official motor racing but also South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology. Of course, this solar power race comes at a time of emphasis on renewable energy and climate change and how we can have climate change debatement. So, it is something that will make sure they demonstrate the power of the sun in Africa.
Makwetla: Speaking about power and challenge, South Africa and Australia are fighting it out for the right to list the world’s biggest radio telescope, an enticing R20-billion project, I’m told.
Creamer: Yes, this is the square-kilometre array (SKA) project. It is a project to put up the world’s biggest radio telescope that will probe the history of the universe. The fight is on between South Africa on Australia as to where this big telescope array will be sited. There were four countries in the running, China and Argentina initially, and now, thereafter only two left, South Africa and Australia. Australia’s Minister of Science upped the ante when she recently said that winning the SKA project award would be tantamount to wining the Sydney Olympics every year for decades to come. Winning will be very prestigious and will put South Africa on the map from a Science and Technology point of view. We have got to look not only at South Africa but also Southern Africa and Africa. Our point of entry will be the wonderful open, clear skies of the Northern Cape, which is a big advantage for us. Already they are starting to put a footprint down there in advance of the decisions being taken, which might only be taken in 2011 for the site, but we have already got what they call the KAT, the Karoo Array Telescope. Interestingly it is now called MeerKAT. That is not just an allusion to the lovely African animal, but it is also a play on the word ‘meer’, which in Afrikaans means “more”. So, we have got “more” KAT coming, more dishes. The square kilometre array will consist of a whole lot of antenna concentrated in a 5 km area, and then spread out. This will begin playing itself out with MeerKAT and of course, the Australians are not behind, they have also got what they call Ascap and they are going ahead with that. They are getting quite a lot of backing from their government. We are also getting some backing from our government in the forms of legislation, the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Bill has been passed through parliament so that we can keep the area free of radio and light interference in the hopes of winning this R20-billion SKA project.
Makwetla: Finally Martin, Johannesburg will next week showcase a Manufacturing Technology International Exhibition, an African first.
Creamer: Yes, this is the Manufacturing Technology International Exhibition (MTI) and it comes against the background of the South African government saying that manufacturing must be the cornerstone of our economy and that is part of the accelerated shared growth initiative called Asgisa. To give some emphasis to this they are having this MTI from Tuesday to Friday next week (October 23 – October 26). It is not just a see and tell type exhibition and also not just a single country exhibition, there is going to be significant participation from India, which gives us a good south-south cooperation. India’s Engineering Export Promotion Council is taking a massive piece of the exhibition stand and they will be cooperating. The idea is to set-up partnerships and not to see this a single event, but as a process where people actually interface, set-up their partnerships and then roll them out, beginning at this exhibition over a whole series of possible engineering and other manufacturing entities. That is the MTI starting next Tuesday at Nasrec Exhibition Centre.
Makwetla: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly, he’ll be back with us at the same time next week.
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