HARARE – One local and about two Chinese companies have been given the tender to produce 300 megawatts (MW) of solar power in Gwanda, Insukamini and Munyati — nearly three years after the original plan was unveiled.

The State Procurement Board (SPB) and its accounting officer, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC)’s award comes as the nation grapples with acute power cuts, and Energy minister Samuel Undenge had recently said he was seeking government intervention in the evaluation of the long-drawn process.

Although State officials, including SPB executive chairman Charles Kuwaza, would not be drawn into comment yesterday, sources said Intratrek Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (Intratrek), ZTE Corporation and another Beijing-linked company Number 17 Metallurgical Construction (Number 17) had been selected for the multi-million dollar project.

“Without a doubt, the tender has been given to ZTE, which will build Insukamini at a cost of $162 million, Gwanda’s Intratrek site at $202,1 million and Number 17 will develop Munyati at a cost of $197 million,” they said.

“The accounting officer (ZPC)’s recommendations for the award were based on the principle of the best advantage (and) taking into consideration cost differentials.”

While the original tender was flighted in November 2012 and had attracted up to six bids, the tender was twice cancelled as Kuwaza demanded a “more rigorous testing and evaluation process of the complex project”.

In all, Noah Gwariro’s company will pay about $561,5 million for the build-operate-transfer projects, whose turnaround time can be just under a year.

While the likes of China Jiangsu for International Corporation had made it to the preliminary list of potential contractors by virtue of matching the SPB’s technical specifications, it would seem they have fallen by the wayside based on financial considerations.

However, the government’s soon-to-be-expected announcement of the tender will come as a relief for many hard-pressed households and Zimbabwean industrial power consumers, who have been enduring up to 36 hours of power black outs.

In the meantime, Intratrek managing director Wicknell Chivayo said he had “no official communication to that effect”, but if they had to be awarded “history would have repeated itself”.

“With the hard work and determination invested (in this tender), such a result can only be inevitable. The SPB is not only fair… but consists of level-headed and incorruptible fellows with unique credentials, and of unquestionable integrity.

“As a nation… let’s all remain focused … to achieve the ZimAsset goals (and) transform the economy from its current quagmire..,” said the flamboyant young businessman yesterday.

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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