South African President Jacob Zuma has hailed the selection of the country to host the major part of the €1.5-billion international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope as "an important step in advancing and consolidating the African agenda”.
Eight other African countries are partners in the South African SKA programme.
The President was speaking in Carnarvon in the Northern Cape on Tuesday, at a public celebration of the country's success with the SKA. Carnarvon is the nearest town to the planned SKA site.
"The SKA project will open many doors for emerging African scientists to cooperate with some of the world's best in this field," he said.
"It will propel our continent to the frontline of astronomy. There is no doubt that, through this massive project, South Africa and Africa will have much to offer the world in science and technology."
Zuma highlighted that the consolidated plan of the African Union and the New Economic Plan for African Development (better known as Nepad) had three pillars: human capital development, knowledge production and technological development.
"The awarding of this project to South Africa is a major step in solidifying science and technology not only in South Africa, but in the African continent as well as across the globe," he stated.
"This presents an opportunity and opportune moment for South Africa to add to its long record of a country excelling in astronomy," affirmed Zuma.
"Let's us lead the world [in science and technology]. It is our time!"