The Perceived Role of the Southern African Large Telescope in the Development of the Town of Sutherland, South Africa
The decisions that underpinned the establishment of the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) near Sutherland in the rural south-western interior of South Africa, was largely precipitated by the existence of the telescopes of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) on the same premise as well as the ideal geographical conditions for astronomical observation that prevail in that area.
South Africa and all the other SALT stakeholders can reap huge scientific and research benefits after the facility will become operational in November 2005. Since the commencement of the building of the SALT in 2002, expectations were high re the potential catalyst and injection functions that the facility could play in the development of the town of Sutherland and its surroundings.
As part of a bigger survey on the development rejuvenation of towns in remote rural areas, this paper specifically analyzes the perceptions of Sutherland’s community about the role that the SALT is playing/not playing/ought to play in the infrastructural, service delivery, economic and educational development of the town and its people. It further revisits the often assumed (beneficial) reciprocal relationships between technological/ scientific establishments and developmentally-deprived communities in the South African context.
Keywords: Perceptions, Astronomical Observation, Locational Factors, Southern African Large Telescope, Development Catalyst, Socio-economic Development, Rural Rejuvenation
Lecturer, Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, University of the Western Cape (UWC)
Research activities focus on natural resource use and management, recycling & waste, technology-community interface and remote sensing education. The development challenges that are faced by South Africa generally, the Western Cape Province at large and Cape Town specifically receive priority in the content of academic programmes as well as departmental research and outreach endeavours.