CABINET on Tuesday approved the revised implementation plan for the 100 megawatt (MW) Gwanda solar project that commits to deliver the first 10MW within six months after signing of financial closure agreements and fulfilment of all outstanding conditions precedent.
Energy and Power Development Minister Advocate Fortune Chasi quickly pointed out that he will demand to see “the colour of the money”, being proof of project funding, before any of the parties in the multi-million dollar project puts pen to paper on the restated contract being drawn.
Minister Chasi confirmed in an interview, Cabinet’s approval of the new implementation plan that is tied to a new contract, involvement of renowned power project experts and a US$14 million “ready-made” loan funding commitment for delivery of the first 10MW under the new phased project plan.
The Energy Minister, while positive that the new pragmatic implementation plan he wants implemented without further delays will bear the desired results, stressed the requirement for the financier to prove funding capacity first.
The project will be done in two phases, 10MW first and then 90MW by 2022.
The Gwanda solar project has courted controversy after the contractor, Intratrek Zimbabwe, failed to deliver within agreed time-lines citing failure by Zesa to fulfil certain of its obligations as well as funding hurdles arising from Zimbabwe’s historical debts to China, the source of funding.
“The parties are currently talking; they are negotiating to ensure compliance with an earlier High Court order on a standing contractual dispute. But yes, Cabinet gave approval for the project to go ahead after consideration of the circumstances and facts on the ground,” Minister Chasi said.
The project stalled following contractual dispute arising from delays in implementation of preliminary works of the project after the contracting part, State power utility Zesa Holdings had paid in advance for the initial works, but did not fulfil all its obligations for the project to move smoothly.