The Square Kilometre Array core site in the Karoo. Picture: MAIK WOLLEBEN
The Square Kilometre Array core site in the Karoo. Picture: MAIK WOLLEBEN

THE Department of Science and Technology has reprimanded the Western Cape for bragging about a multimillion-rand project to build a huge data centre for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

Western Cape economic opportunities MEC Alan Winde said on Monday it was putting out a call to the private sector‚ requesting information on the best model for the R453m centre.

"The advice we receive will be used to inform the final tender or request for proposal documents‚" he said.

"We aim to collect as much information as possible on the best model for the centre before putting it out to tender later this year. There is a deadline for SKA to move into the centre by 2020‚ and we plan to move swiftly on this project. Our plan is to build a facility that is of a very high standard‚ taking the advice of experts into account."

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor’s department said Winde’s call for information, and suggestions that the SKA project would be hosted in the data centre, were "misleading and incorrect".

"The SKA is a global project whose detailed infrastructure requirements are still under development‚ including those for data management and high performance computing‚ decisions which will be made by an international organisation that itself is still under development‚" the department said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The Department of Science and Technology is a member of this global SKA consortium but is not in any position to pre-empt such decisions. There is currently no SKA plan for a data centre in the Western Cape‚ and decisions in this regard will be made by the governing board of the international SKA organisation in due course.

"The technical and institutional details of South African computing and data management requirements are also still being developed‚ and the Department of Science and Technology is not yet in a position to commit to any specific solution.

"While the Department of Science and Technology is responsible for managing SA’s engagement with the global SKA project‚ and enjoys close and supportive relations with a growing number of important stakeholders in exercising this responsibility‚ it is important for other spheres of government to recognise and respect this leadership role," the department said.

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