The Nkuntunse Radio Telescope Project: a practical means to popularise science in Ghana

Fri, 29 Jan 2016 Source: Seshie, Stanley

By Stanley Seshie

In the evening bulletin of 23rd January, 2016, Tv3 network carried the

news on the progress of work on the Nkuntunse Radio Telescope Project

amidst the political and high tariffs news that always characterize

daily bulletins. This was good news - as it has to do with science.

A project meant to convert the 32m Vodafone Earth Station Antenna in

Nkuntunse at the northern outskirts of Accra into a radio astronomy

telescope. This project will certainly lifts Ghana onto the map of the

heavenly studies via the indispensable potential contributions of the

facility. Ghana shall equally reap the socio-economic benefits.

Given the inherent limitations of the human eyes for observations,

telescopes are formidable extensions covering all the electromagnetic

spectrum. Telescopes are the portals through which humanity now look

into the Universe for awe-inspiring discoveries. Radio telescope is

one such example.

Radio telescopes are the most common telescopes now available in

Ghana. With a MultiTv or DSTV decoder connected to TV and a satellite

dish mounted on the roof, you essentially have a mini radio telescope

collecting data in the form of encoded radio waves as entertainment,

educative and religious programs by the dish wired down for decoding

and visualization. That is one of the commercial uses of radio


Therefore, the progress on the revival of the telescopic astronomy in

Ghana via the Nkuntunse project by the joint efforts of Ghana Space

Science and Technology Institute (GSSTI) and African VLBI Network

(AVN), SKA South Africs is invaluable news. Especially since this is

for scientific research purposes. It will also contribute to the

needed popularisation of science in Ghana when international news

outlets begin to carry headlines of discoveries in astronomy and

cosmology, probably using a telescopes on our own soil.

Accordingly, this project should awaken our current crop of leaders to

reinvigorate the visionary legacies of our past leaders. The actions

and thoughts of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as evidenced in most of his

progressive foundational works and inspirational writings speaks

volumes of what he expects from Ghanaians at all times.

The man simply wanted his beloved nation, Ghana, to be more of

thinking and action oriented citizens (leaders and followers) than the

political talkative and praying ones that we have become, and

fossilized beyond archeological excavation. He essentially expected

Ghana to lead Africa politically, scientifically, technologically and

economically in order to influence others and collectively push for

the wholistic liberation of the continent from the claws of

imperialism of any kind from world powers.

In the footsteps of John F. Kennedy and subsequent Heads of State of

USA and other advanced nations, Ghanaian presidents should

occasionally deliver speeches in Parliament and educational

institutions that, when broadcated to the entire nation, will impress

on us, that we have set for ourselves some scientific challenges to

accomplish within a given period.

A concrete reason to tighten our belts nationally, as a dedicated

sizeable amount of the taxpayers' money must find its way into

sponsoring scientific researches that will lead to technological

breakthroughs than used for frivolous expenditures and defraying

unnecessary politically incurred debts. Funding of researches by State

and Corporate organisations in all areas of human knowledge is the

beginning of industrilization of a nation.

South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria are leading giants on the continent,

launching their own satellites into space and recouping the

socio-economic benefits therein. Even Ethiopia, a populous but "poor"

nation in the eastern block of Africa recently launched its own

satellite through joint sponsorship from State and others.

Ghana is one nation that chalked international recognitions in many

things, especially in issues of governance. Ghana is a signatory to

this charter, that charter and ratifying this, ratifying that. Well,

it is time to become a signatory to, and ratify charters of space

science and technology too. That means commitment to spending

taxpayer's money judiciously enough to use some to fund programs of

this kind and similar ones.

Advanced and developing nations are not noted for ratifying

signatories upon signatories and holding periodic free and fair

elections only. They are also known for their commitment to funding

researches that guarantees socio-economic benefits for the

developmental sustainability of the nation.

Nothing is as visionary as a leader's commitment to funding researches

- the backbone of every developed and developing economy. The dreams

of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah for Ghana must come to fruition. Finally, and

symbolically, this Nkuntunse radio telescope, when operational should

tell Ghanaians that faith is not an extension of any of our senses as

telescopes and microscopes are of our eyes. Let us look into the

heavens with our eyes opened, not closed.

Email: seshiehanku@gmail.com

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Columnist: Seshie, Stanley