Chasi calls for Gwanda project revival

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©️ ENERGY minister Fortune Chasi has implored Zesa Holdings (Zesa) and the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) to “resuscitate the Gwanda solar project” — together with Intratrek — in line with two High Court orders for dialogue, and the need to improve electricity supply.

The development comes as the government has invited bids for 500 MW smart metering and renewable energy projects, and Wicknell Chivayo’s company has brought in new partners — including Victor Uchedzi and Presidential Advisory Council chair Edwin Manikai — which has convinced the government about its seriousness.

“I wish to reiterate that government’s position is fully informed by all these factors, which have been approved at the highest level. I consider the foregoing as having placed government’s position in unambiguous clarity.

Megawatts will ultimately be made at the project and not in courts,” Chasi said, adding the “High Court has made this point and expressed exasperation with the endless litigation”.

“Given the current power situation, government cannot afford the luxury of continued litigation and has been forced to take a pragmatic approach to the production of power,” he said in an interview.

It is envisaged that after all agreements and security packages — requested by the financiers are fulfilled, and signed — Intratrek will feed 10 MW of power into the national grid within the next six months and help reduce the cost of power imports.

ATC Holdings — owned by Uchedzi — is the prospective financier and was pivotal in assisting Zesa in the debt/equity structuring of Hwange seven and eight US$1,4 billion expansion project, and the successful modelling together with KPMG on the same project.

“Government finds no reason not to find comfort in the firm, which has already launched a 10 MW plant in Nyabira and financially closed agreements for 25 more,” Chasi said.

“I am persuaded to believe … the quick syndication of a bankable financial model for Gwanda ought not to be problematic. At the revised price of US$139 million, the debt/equity model will be less rigorous and financial closure will be reached expeditiously,” the Mazowe South Member of Parliament said.

Gwanda, among many other power projects, has always been a key economic enabler for the transitional stabilisation programme (TSP) and successor policies, thus the Harare administration has also placed faith in Chint Electric (Chint)’s capacity, which was attested by a recent ZPC due diligence report.

The company is not only the second largest producer of solar equipment in the world, but a reputable blue chip and Shanghai Stock Exchange-listed firm with annual sales in excess of US$12 billion.

“Considering the team won a competitive tender awarded by the State Procurement Board, I find no objection to the Asian company implementing the project,” Chasi said, adding it was ironic that the project was right next to a new residential suburb in Gwanda, which had no power at all.

“And the key role of Manikai, and others speaks volumes of integrity, professionalism and experience placed into the project,” the former advocate said.

And Chasi emphasised that the decision to revive the project — through dialogue with Intratrek — was based on Justice Tawanda Chitapi’s findings that “with the government’s thrust (for an) accelerated development to attain middle income status by 2030, it is hoped that key projects like this are not stalled by unnecessary bickering and extra contractual frustrations, but seek to promptly implement such projects of national importance.”

Wilson Manase, Intratrek’s chairperson, also pledged his group’s commitment to fulfilling the 100MW project, provide employment opportunities for over 1 000 people in Gwanda and help the country deal with power shortages.

“Taking from the resolutions passed at our meeting, we confirm that our chief legal advisors (Manikai) have been given full instructions to commence the drafting of an amended and restated EPC contract … for all the proposed changes from the initial draft,” he said, adding their technical partner Chint was “ready to deploy its highly specialised team of experts for site preparation and as they prepare for commencement of works”.

“Simultaneously, our finance team is concluding the commercial terms of the bridge-financing facility in order to present the same at the earliest possible convenience …,” Manase said.

And Chasi has not only justified his decision to revisit the Matabeleland South project on the basis that Zesa — and the country — had always suffered from poor project execution, but any other alternative plans had a longer gestation period.

 

 

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