South Africa as the major location for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope changes the character of Africa, Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor said on Friday.
"Who comes to Africa to actually do their best research? People come here to examine us, to find out how poor we are, to look at diseases that we have, they never come here to say 'I want to do Nobel science work'," she said.
"But they are gonna be coming to do that with the SKA. An absolutely different image of the continent. Not here to exploit our diamonds, our gold, our platinum but here to say I want to do iconic research on an iconic instrument... "
Pandor was speaking at a The New Age business breakfast in Sandton.
She said that her department would like to involve all countries on the African continent to become part of the astrology sciences project.
She was excited at the potential of astronomy to be a valuable vehicle to encourage a greater interest in scientific careers among the youth.
Pandor said her department found that astronomy was proving to be an unrivalled instrument for science education in terms of the excitement it generates amongst the youth.
She said she was working with the department of basic education to ensure that schools in the rural areas have laboratories.
The treasury provided significant funding for the infrastructure for laboratories, she said.
"We will be supporting the department of basic education wherever we can... We work together in a number of areas that we have initiated," she said.
"The pipeline is important to us – so we will support where we can."
Pandor also took the time to praise women in science making a difference in the science industry.