Cisco Invests $5M In South Africa’s SKA, Plans To Be Tech Partner

Cisco Invests $5M In South Africa’s SKA, Plans To Be Tech Partner

From BusinessDayLive. Story by Tamar Kahn.


U.S. networking giant Cisco has signed a memo of understanding with South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology to become the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope’s official technology partner and will invest 60 million rand (US$5 million) in the project, it announced on Thursday.

The SKA is being built in South Africa and Australia, and when complete will be the world’s most powerful radio telescope.

One of the challenges facing its scientists and engineers is how to manage the huge volume of data it is expected to generate — about 10 times the data generated by global Internet traffic.

Based in San Jose, California, Cisco designs, manufactures, and sells communications networking equipment.

Cisco has been collaborating with the SKA project since 2011, and has already invested in a computer and networking training centre in Carnarvon, 80 kilometers from the remote Karoo site where the South African part of the SKA is being built.

That project has so far generated about 30 jobs for locals, according to Alfie Hamid, Cisco’s regional manager for corporate affairs.

Cisco now plans to expand its investments and is providing 50 million rand worth of equipment and support to a new Centre for Broadband Communication at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, launched Thursday by Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor.

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The center is expected to conduct pioneering research for optical fiber data transport, knowledge that will be used for the SKA and other projects.

Cisco’s involvement is expected to help the SKA South Africa office figure out how to manage the data collected by the instrument.

Ms. Pandor said the new center would also play a critical role in providing broadband solutions to South Africa.

“The center is …aligned with the national broadband policy for South Africa, which aims to ensure universal access to reliable, affordable and secure broadband infrastructure and services by 2020, and to stimulate sustainable uptake and usage,” said the minister in a statement.

Cisco said its investments were intended to help South Africa develop a skilled workforce capable of working on the high-tech SKA. “As new industries emerge, spurred by smart investments in technology like the SKA, the development of skills and talent will be critical for the economic success of Carnarvon and South Africa as a whole.”

Cisco invested more than 100 million rand US $8.5 million over the past 15 years in developing South Africa’s advanced ICT skills base through its networking academy program, which has been implemented in high schools, government departments and nongovernmental organisations.

Read more at BusinessDayLive.