HARARE - Zimbabwe has awarded the 300 megawatt (MW) solar tender to three companies, including China Jiangxi International Cooperation (CJIC), Intratrek Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (Intratrek) and ZTE Corporation (ZTE).
The development comes as the country has been grappling with increased power outages and which have been classified a potential security threat.
Although CJIC was the first to be named among the winners, Harare has said the other two could participate in the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) project "on condition of successful price negotiation, land acquisition and fulfillment of other technical aspects of the tender".
"At (a) meeting... held on February 13, 2014, the State Procurement Board noted... the critical shortage of power and its negative effects on the growth of the economy as well as its potential threat to national security," Cledwyn Nyanhete, the board's accounting officer said, in a recent letter to ZPC managing director Noah Gwariro, adding the matter was urgent.
"Accordingly... the accounting officer should engage the two technically compliant bidders namely Intratrek... and ZTE," he said.
According to documents seen by businessdaily last week, the Chinese firms and Intratrek have commited to a funding model or mechanism based on an 80:20 percent ratio and 100 percent for the later.
What this means is the foreign investors will bring in about 80 to 90 percent, while Gwariro's company will have to make the difference.
The ZPC boss was unreachable for comment on this, and many other issues surrounding the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) processes also including delivery timetables of the mega-million project.
Wicknell Chivayo, the Intratrek MD, said although his company had not received any official communication on the issue, they were obviously elated and would "do anything to suport government programmes such as ZimAsset".
"At my level, I am not expected to speculate or say anything bordering on conjecture. But given the chance, we are proud to be part of the brilliant and people-orientated ZimAsset initiative that seeks to provide quick-wins in sectors such as energy," he said.
As a company which first brought the solar farm concept and project to Zimbabwe in 2013, their vision was to "ameliorate the power shortage and deficit" - running at 1 000-plus MW - as well as create abundant employment by 2018.
"As patriotic Zimbabweans, it is also our considered view that... anyone (in government or outside and) with puerile opposition and an imperialist position or principle, and unwilling to support ZimAsset's implementation must be eliminated."
To this end, the company has secured a 260 hectare piece of land in Gwanda for the construction of the project.
Intratrek hopes to harness abundant sunshine resources in Matabeleland South and pump up to 100MW into the national grid.
According to an EPC report seen by this paper late last year, Chint will partner the local company for the $248 million project due to be delivered within a year.
Under the project, the Shanghai-based behemoth -- with assets worth over $30 billion -- will help raise capital at a concessionary six percent interest per annum over a 12-year period.
Following the tender announcement, the parties are readying to undertake the Gwanda project where scientific studies have proven good solar radiation and are prepared to swoop on other aread.
With a 50-year life span, the Intratrek-Chint solar farms and international technology -- with a 25-year guarantee -- can procure electricity at $2,5 million per MW of solar power.
As China's fourth largest private enterprise, Chint is a market leader in electric voltage distribution products that are also present in over 110 countries.
In its latest financials, the 29-year-old company had revenues of nearly $5 billion and a 40 percent share of the domestic market supply.
Globally, the Asian company also employees 29 000-plus people.
By tapping into this renewable and smart energy market, analysts say Zimbabwe could actually be able to plug the skills gap between the southern African country and its partners, and which strategies can aloso make it the solar hub of the region.