Within the framework of the existing agreement between the Western Cape and Bavaria, the Western Cape and Bavarian governments, the DLR, the Technikon University of Munich, Stellenbosch University and Sunspace are exploring ways of deepening their cooperation in the fields of science and technology, and specifically space and satellite technology.

The Premier of the Western Cape, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, and the Minister President of the Federal State of Bavaria in Germany, Dr Edmund Stoiber, on Wednesday discussed the framework of such deepened cooperation, and committed themselves to exploring further avenues for strengthening cooperation between the two regions.

The Premier was accompanied by the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Stellenbosch University, Professor Arnold Schoonwinkel. The University of Stellenbosch has done pioneering work by developing South Africa’s first satellite, SUNSAT 1, launched into space in 1999. Currently the development of SUNSAT 2, using new generation micro satellite technology, is well advanced.

This technology has wide potential application in Southern Africa, especially in agriculture, health (malaria vectoring), mining exploration, disaster mitigation (e.g. floods), urban and environmental planning and the management of natural resources. This technology opens possibilities for cooperation with other countries and regions, and for unlocking expertise and opportunities with direct advantages for the Western Cape, South Africa and indeed the whole of Africa.

During the meetings in Munich a number of areas for future cooperation were identified as possible partnership projects where the Western Cape and Bavaria’s research development and application of technology complement each other. Detailed talks on the technical aspects of cooperation, educational exchanges and partnership projects will now follow.

Addressing the roundtable discussion on future space technology cooperation, Premier Van Schalkwyk stressed the importance of an expanded technological partnership between the two regions: “Our technological partnership can open new opportunities to improve the lives of the people in our respective regions. This exciting development will give all our people access to the advantages of space and communication technology and will promote not only the interests of South Africa, but has the potential to also contribute substantially to the development of the rest of Southern Africa and Africa. We are committed to using the available technology to the benefit of all our people, and that is why we are now putting in place medium- and long-term plans and projects such as this one.”

During the talks Professor Schoonwinkel said: “The previous satellite development work at Stellenbosch University placed us in a position to make an important technological contribution to the partnership between the Western Cape and Bavaria, and for the people of the Western Cape. We view high technology development as a tool to inspire young people to become students of science and technology, and to motivate them to become future students of engineering at Stellenbosch University, to join this field of research, in particular students from previously disadvantaged communities. This is part of our recipe for success.”

Enquiries: Rob Spaull, Cell: 083-777-8563

Issued by the Office of the Premier, Western Cape Provincial Government, 25 April 2003