Writing on Australia’s The Conversation website, Tshilidzi Marwala, dean of engineering at the the University of Johannesburg, discusses the knock-on benefits for SA of the Square Kilometre Array astronomy project.
The SKA requires extensive communications infrastructure to be put into place to capture and transmit vast amounts of data. Its dishes will produce enough data every second to fill more than 5,000 160-GB iPods.
When the bandwidth of communication channels between South Africa and the world increases, the benefits will spill over into the rest of the continent. Because of the expanded telecommunication infrastructure it will bring in its wake, the SKA will improve connectivity, allowing vital initiatives such as e-health, e-education and e-government.
That could mean a medical specialist based in Sydney could offer medical advice, in real-time, to doctors in a rural hospital in Venda, South Africa, or a class in a top high school in London to be accessed, live, by a rural school in Mbabane, Swaziland.
In other words, such technology will allow many opportunities that were not previously possible. Also, increased connectivity will lower the cost of doing business in South Africa and increase economic activity.