Science Forum South Africa (SFSA-2021) 1 – 3 December 2021: AfAS-IAU-OAD session on “Advancing Africa’s Astronomy Agenda” (2 December 2021, 15:30 – 17:30 CAT/CEST)

The Department of Science and Innovation’s (DSI) seventh annual Science Forum South Africa (SFSA-2021) will be held from December 1 to December 3, 2021. The forum seeks to “Ignite Conversations about Science” to enable the formation of new partnerships, both public-private and international, to put science at the service of society.  SFSA-2021 is also committed to the purpose of furthering the pan-African scientific agenda. Within the content of this Forum, the African Astronomical Society (AfAS) and the International Astronomical Union Office of Astronomy for Development (IAU OAD) will present a dedicated session entitled “Advancing Africa’s Astronomy Agenda”.

Astronomy has seen substantial investment by the South African Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and as a result, several significant astronomy initiatives have burgeoned in the country and African continent at large. Using Southern Africa’s geographic advantage of dark skies as a strategic driver for the development of globally competitive astronomy research programmes, South Africa is home to mega-science projects capable of producing cutting edge science such as the Meerkat telescope, MeerLICHT, Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array HERA, the Hydrogen Intensity and Real-time Analysis eXperiment (HIRAX), and the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) in Namibia. In addition, the SKA project is scheduled to commence construction in South Africa. Prospects for the future include the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) and the Africa Millimetre Telescope (AMT), with the latter providing an essential link to the international Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Further evidence of the rapid growth of astronomy in the continent can also be seen through the winning of the bid to host for the first time, in Africa, the IAU General Assembly (IAU-GA) in 2024. Both the SKA and the GA 2024 were proposed by South Africa as “African” bids that will in time, benefit the continent as a whole.

The DSI has supported the various initiatives mentioned above through the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), as well as implementing training efforts through various Human Capital Development (HCD) programmes such as the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP). In addition to this, the DSI supports the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD), a joint project of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the South African National Research Foundation (NRF), that aims to further the use of astronomy as a tool for sustainable development globally. The DSI also recently committed to hosting and supporting the Secretariat of the African Astronomical Society (AfAS) which is a voice of astronomy on the continent and is working to address the challenges faced by Africa through the promotion and advancement of astronomy.

This session offers an opportunity for the key role players to demonstrate how the various initiatives mentioned above are facilitating the development of astronomy in Africa as well as future plans which will ensure that Africa becomes one of the leaders in astronomy internationally. It will also allow the role players to interact with one another and demonstrate how the plans of the various institutions that are involved, are in alignment. 

Presentations and discussions during the session will focus on:

  1. Current and planned initiatives to grow and connect the African Astronomical community;
  2. Flagship projects and involvement of participating stakeholders in science and outreach;
  3. Potential roll-out and benefit of astronomy hubs on the continent;
  4. Strengthening continental research collaborations through joint research projects, observations, MSc/Ph.D. student’s joint supervisions, joint proposals, etc;
  5. Vision and legacy of the IAU-GA 2024.

If you wish to attend this or any other sessions during this Forum, please register at the following link. The registration is free, enabling you to select those sessions you wish to attend:

For more information contact the AfAS Head Secretariat, Charles Takalana, by email

You can also contact the Director of OAD, Kevin Govender, by email


IAU GA 2024: