SKA SA, Agri SA partner to benefit Karoo communities

22nd February 2017 By: Anine Kilian - Contributing Editor Online

Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA) and Agri SA have signed an agreement to ensure that local communities of the Karoo benefit from the SKA project.

The SKA project is an international effort to build the world's largest radio telescope.

SKA SA is negotiating with landowners to buy 32 portions of land, or 118 000 ha, on which to build its core.

Antennas will also be built across three spiral arms that will stretch out from the core. Use of the land for establishing the spiral arms will be negotiated by establishing servitude agreements with landowners.

SKA SA and Agri SA have committed to continuously explore ways to accommodate ongoing farming activities where possible, if the functioning of the radio observatory is not compromised.

The local farming community, including farmworkers, will be affected by the restrictions placed on the use of modern telecommunications devices.

SKA SA has also committed to investing in the development of alternate technologies that will ensure the impact on the farming community is minimised.

Through this agreement, frequent needs assessments will be conducted to ensure that these alternative solutions meet the communications needs of the affected communities.

"Agri SA is keen to develop partnerships and this one represents a partnership to develop relations and solutions together with farmers and communities in the area," Agri SA president Johannes Möller said in a statement on Wednesday.

SKA SA MD Dr Rob Adam said his vision for SKA in South Africa is to continue building on its relationship with the people living near the SKA site in the Karoo.

“Various socioeconomic studies point to the needs of local people regarding education, employment and quality of life. It is the responsibility of both SKA SA and local farmers to work together to build a sustainable future for this part of the Karoo that we are privileged to work and live in,” he said.