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Cape Town selected to host IAU General Assembly in 2024

The Cape Town and the Western Cape Convention Bureau, a division at Wesgro, is proud to announce that Cape Town has been selected to host the 2024 International Astronomical Union General Assembly. Source: pixabay.com The 10-day event, which will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), can expect around 3,000 delegates with an estimated economic impact of R192m for the province’s economy.

“The support for the bid from not only astronomers but also industry, academic institutions and government has been phenomenal, and its success is a testament to what we can accomplish through our united efforts. For astronomers, this is like winning the bid to host a Football World Cup or the Olympics. It’s time for Africa! We are excited and look forward to welcoming our colleagues from around the world to the first of hopefully many IAU General Assemblies on African soil.” says Dr. Shazrene Mohamed, member of the bid committee, and astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory and the University of Cape Town.

National Minister of Science and Technology, Kubayi-Ngubane, congratulated the bid team and commented that wins of this nature highlighted mega projects undertaken locally including the MeerKAT; Square Kilometre Array; African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network; Southern African Large Telescope, and HESS and HIRAX telescopes.

Currently 99 years old, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is comprised of professional astronomers from all over the world and seeks to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation.

First for Africa

Patricia de Lille, the executive mayor, commented, “Cape Town is proud to be the first host on African soil of this prestigious gathering of astronomers. Choosing Cape Town as the host confirms the city as the events capital of the continent. This past year the city has played host to hundreds of events, and the eight signature events contributed more than R3bn to the local economy and created more than 20,000 temporary jobs. Since 2012 the City’s events budget increased from R4m a year to over R40m a year. We look forward to growing the industry even further in the run-up to 2024.”

A giant leap for South Africa

Alan Winde, minister of economic opportunities, commented, “This is the first time in its history that the general assembly of the International Astronomical Union will be held in Africa so we are thrilled that this conference, the largest gathering of astronomers in the world, will take place in our province. With major astronomy projects such as the MeerKAT and the Square Kilometre Array currently being developed in the country, South Africa is taking big steps in the world of astronomy. Hosting this conference in the Western Cape will allow engagement with some of the world’s foremost minds in the field, and will also contribute to our conference and business tourism economy. We look forward to hosting the delegates in a few years’ time.”

Tim Harris, Wesgro CEO, added, "Business events, such as this conference, not only provide a significant economic impact on our local tourism economy but also helps grow the knowledge economy. The arrival of many astronomy experts in the Cape will provide an invaluable opportunity for the transfer of niche and specialised skills, connecting researchers in Africa with the rest of the global community. This, in turn, serves as a catalyst to stimulate additional trade and investment opportunities."

The value of the bid has also been recognised by the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) who supports the bid through its subvention fund. SANCB’s Chief Convention Bureau Officer stated in a final comment, “In recent years South Africa has played a leading role in the Astronomical sphere. Therefore the hosting of the International Astronomical Union – General Assembly in 2024 will contribute significantly to the growth of our continent.”