South Africa has scored another major deal as earlier this week the Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, signed an international treaty which will establish South Africa’s Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) as an intergovernmental organisation tasked with building and operating the world’s most powerful astronomy telescope.
According to SA News, the signing ceremony was presided over by Italy’s Minister of Education, Marco Bussetti, and witnessed by ministers, ambassadors and other high level representatives from countries participating in the SKA project.
“South Africa’s signature on the establishment of SKA as an intergovernmental legal entity to oversee the construction and operational phases of the SKA project is a crucial milestone and one which should be celebrated,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.
The website added that seven countries have already signed the treaty – South Africa, Australia, China, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom. India and Sweden, who took part in the multilateral negotiations, will now have a year to sign the treaty.
The treaty has been named the “Rome Convention” in recognition of Italy’s role in the negotiation process. The treaty will establish the SKAO as the second intergovernmental organisation dedicated to astronomy in the world, after the Europe Southern Observatory, located in Germany.
“What makes this particularly unique is the fact that, for the first time, Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe have committed at the intergovernmental level to collaborate on a large-scale science project as equal partners. This represents the start of a new era for global science governance,” concluded the Minister.