The African VLBI Network (AVN) is a project to build an African Very Long Baseline Interferometric (VLBI) network, partly by converting redundant satellite Earth-station antennas across Africa to use for radio astronomy. SKA-SA and HartRAO have converted the redundant 34-m telecommunications antenna in Ghana to a radio telescope. The Ghanaian radio telescope will be the second element, HartRAO is the first, of what will eventually become the AVN. There are 29 documented 30-m class telecommunications antennas in 19 African countries though some no longer exist. It is proposed that more of these can be converted and added to the AVN. Each addition will improve the present global VLBI networks. Currently there are plans, to convert two more antennas in Kenya and Zambia and some new built antennas are also considered.
SKA-SA and HartRAO are providing the basis for developing the AVN both for hardware development and technical and scientific human capacity development.The image on the left shows the 26-m radio telescope at HartRAO.
Development in Africa for Radio Astronomy (DARA)
The DARA project aims to develop high tech skills using radio astronomy in a number of African countries. Radio astronomy encompasses all of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills that underpin the emergence of a strong developed economy. The modern astronomer needs knowledge in physics, mathematics, chemistry and computing. To develop, maintain and run radio telescopes and instrumentation requires key skills in technology and engineering. This Newton Fund programme will provide a pool of talented young people who have been inspired by astronomy to play a leading role in the emergence of new economies.
DARA currently runs a basic training programme in radio astronomy in Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.