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23
Thu, Nov

Ghana to launch radio astronomy observatory facility

Dr Bernard Asibri , the Manager of the Ghana Radio Astronomy Observatory Centre, speaking at the press briefing. Picture: NII MARTEY M. BOTCHWAY

Ghana is set to make history as the first country in West Africa to launch a radio telescope that will monitor objects in the universe and promote the use of scientific technologies in the country.

The feat will be attained when the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, officially inaugurate the GH₵30-million Ghana Radio Astronomy Observatory at Kutunse in the Greater Accra Region on August 24, this year.

When it is launched, the country will join other countries that have been able to deploy radio telescope scientific technology to detect the movement of planets, galaxies and other heavenly bodies.

The project is a partnership between the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) African Project, a South African entity, with funding from the African Renaissance Fund.

Benefits

The initiative will better position the country to be able to handle large volumes of data and also provide a platform to advance the study of science in the country.

The project will also boost the availability of Internet facilities and quality of data.

The journey

Feasibility studies and other processes for the project began in 2011 following a memorandum of understanding that was signed between the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) and Vodafone Ghana for the transfer of an abandoned antennae to the former.

Following the successful transfer of the defunct telecommunication facility to the GAEC, the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute (GSSTI) was established to facilitate the conversion of the facility into a radio telescope.

The first phase of the project, which includes engineering works and other technical components, have been completed, paving the way for the project to start operating.

It is expected that by June 2019, the South African partners, who are currently overseeing the technical operations of the project, will hand it over fully to Ghana.

Protect

Ahead of the inauguration of the project, a media interaction was held in Accra yesterday, at which the Director of the GSSTI, Professor Dickson Adomako, underscored the need for the country’s universities to include the study of Radio Astronomy in their curriculum.

He also asked for governments in Africa to make policies on science and technology robust enough to promote economic development.

Touching on the prospects of the radio telescope to develop the country, he said apart from the enormous potential to boost science and technology, the initiative was also a good avenue for the tourism and hospitality industry.

“The fact is that because of this facility, many tourists will come to the country and this is going to boost the tourism industry, since more revenue will be generated,” he said.

The Manager of the Ghana Radio Astronomy Observatory Centre, Dr Bernard Asibiri, said the facility would be an avenue to tap into solar energy for the country.

“We can design the facility to track the movement of the sun from sunrise to sunset and this means that we can tap a lot of sunlight for solar energy,” he said.

The Programmes Engineer for SKA Africa Project, Dr Anita Loots, said the project would help build the human resource potential of Ghana, especially in the area of Radio Astronomy.

She said another component of the initiative would provide an opportunity for Ghana to benefit from super computing infrastructure.