We attended the African-European Radio Astronomy Platform (AERAP) seminar “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace” during the 4th EU Africa-Summit. The aim was to highlight the role of international science and technology collaboration within the African-European partnership.
Installation of new telescopes in South Africa. A representative from the Astrophysics Institute of the Canary Islands presented the Quijote project, which links South Africa and the European Union (EU). It aims to promote the installation of new telescopes in the Karoo Observatory in South Africa. With an estimated budget of €6 million, this project could generate:
- scientific benefits by complementing the observation in the Northern Sky and increasing the current target sensitivity;
- socio-economic benefits by training South African scientists and engineers in techniques and strategies.
Transfer of skills in Africa. “People first, success follows” is the motto of the Goonhilly Earth Station, a large telecommunications site located on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, England. The representative of Goonhilly emphasised the link between radio astronomy and the origin of the universe, and stressed the role of radio astronomy within transferable skills. Goonhilly is currently working on the transfer of skills in Africa, hoping this will contribute to peace and prosperity.
Reducing the carbon footprint. A representative from Portugal’s Institute for Telecommunications introduced the audience to the ENGaGE-SKA project and the ‘green’ data centres. These centres are contributing to efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of Cloud computing.
Submarine connections between Europe and Africa. Radio astronomy faces a lot of challenges linked to high-capacity transport, distribution of synchronisation signals and transmission knowledge exchange. A representative from Coriant explained the company’s vision on dealing with those challenges, and stressed how big data will shape industry in the future. There is a high capacity of submarine connections between Africa and Europe thanks to the well-connected sea cables between the two continents. In addition, Coriant will support radio astronomy in Europe, as well as Africa.
Radio astronomy as a key for development. A researcher from the University of Leiden explained the importance of introducing astronomy to children from an early age to develop their interest. This was the purpose of the EUNAWE project, funded under the FP7 Programme. According to the International Astronomical Union strategic plan, astronomy can be used as a tool for development and should be taken into account within the framework of the Horizon 2020 Programme.
The power of new technologies to improve vulnerable people’s lives. SafetyNET is a global cyber café project that uses the power of new technologies to help reduce violence against women and children. Projects are currently operating in North America, Asia, North Africa and Europe. SafetyNET also provides women with opportunities to develop computer skills and experience creative technologies for themselves (in videography, digital photography, web design and other forms of mediated storytelling).
Astronomy as a tool to expand African development initiatives. A representative from Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics presented a tender launched by the government of Namibia for the observation and computation of the international terrestrial reference system. This involves several actors and tools, such as the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), the Global Navigation Satellite Systems in Africa (GNSS-Africa), and the African Reference Frame (AFREF).
More information about the seminar:
About the African-European Radio Astronomy Platform
The African-European Radio Astronomy Platform (AERAP) is a stakeholder forum convened to define priorities for radio astronomy cooperation between Africa and Europe. It provides a framework for stakeholders from industry and academia to define research action plans across the wide range of technological areas that will be essential for the future of radio astronomy.
More information on AERAP: