In 1996, the South African government, under the leadership of the late Nelson Mandela, identified astronomy as a key area for investment.It's just disturbing that most African countries, South Africa inclusive, find it difficult to fund what truly engineers growth and development. Importing everything we need from Taiwan, China, India and every other country in the world, only makes us consumers, and poor miserable consumers at that.
In a white paper, lawmakers recognized that if South Africa failed to invest in "flagship sciences" then the country would be viewed as a "second-class" nation "chained forever" to the need for food and clothing.
Last year, the government, led by President Jacob Zuma, announced it would invest 200 million rand (around $20 million) in astronomy training over the next five years.
Govender added: "The target that we have is to spend 1% of GDP on science and technology. We haven't reached that yet."