SAAO - South African Astronomical Observatory


One of the goals of the project is to construct as much of the telescope in South Africa as possible. This would benefit the partnership overall by being less expensive and ensuring that all funds contributed by South Africa would be spent to the benefit of South African industry. With all the major contracts now placed, we are on course for close to 60% of the telescope construction costs being spent in South Africa.

Technology transfer between a foreign company and a South African company and joint venture contracts have been arranged. Specific examples of these include the collaboration between BKS Advantech (South Africa) and Starnet International (USA) on the dome design and the nodes used in the mirror truss.

A critical part of the procurement policy relates to black empowerment. The procurement policy for SALT requires that companies state what programmes they have in place for developing persons from the previously disadvantaged community and to what extent they are black owned. This is a factor in the selection of the company awarded the contract.

Some successes so far:

  • Ninham Shand, a large company of consulting engineers impressed us with their commitment to, and achievements they have made in, empowerment - both in their staff profile and in their training opportunities.
  • G. Johardien & Associates (a 100% empowerment owned and staffed company) were appointed as the electrical consulting engineers.
  • WML Construction was contracted to implement a community based labour model at the SALT site in order to have the trenches for the water supply and communication channels excavated. In general, labour intensive techniques are being used where possible.
  • The main facility construction contract, awarded to WBHO Construction, specifically requires labour to first be recruited in Sutherland. The SALT project requires weekly records to be kept so that the project can verify who was employed, for how long, to do what and from where they came.
  • The contract for the design, manufacture and installation of the telescope structure was awarded to BKS Advantech, a Pretoria based company with a significant empowerment shareholding. It is a condition of this contract that they meet with the Sutherland community with a view to seeing how the community could benefit and to jointly look at opportunities that may arise. BKS is required to provide the SALT Project Office with a written report on these meetings together with the plans that we hope flow from them.


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