HARARE – Funding challenges have stalled three major solar power projects that the Zimbabwe government intended to embark on to boost electricity supply, the Senate heard on Thursday.The three are Insukamini in Bulawayo, Munyati and the Gwanda project which alone was intended to supply 100 MW of electricity.
Energy and Power Development Deputy Minister Tsitsi Muzenda told Senators during the question and answer session that the projects were yet to take off.
“Most of our solar projects have been having challenges in that people bid, they are given permission to do whatever they are supposed to do, but at times those people would not be having (financial) resources,” she said.
“There is Gwanda, Munyati and the other one, all those projects were supposed to be on course by now but funding has been our greatest problem. You are aware that most of what is supposed to be used, the solar panels and so forth are imported so the capital outlay is quiet massive.”
Commenting on the $202 million Gwanda project, Muzenda said disagreements between the funders and their local partner had stalled the scheme.
“With the Gwanda one the challenge has been that the people who were supposed to finance that later were not happy with the local partner so they have had to change whatever they had agreed to,” she said.
“We are hoping that very soon the Gwanda one will be on course.”
The Gwanda project has long been mired in controversy ever since Intratek owned by businessman Wicknell Chivayo, won the tender for the project in October 2015.
The solar project should have already taken off, especially given that Intratek was paid $5 million for pre-commencement works.
The $5 million, which was allegedly paid without a bank guarantee as required, covered activities such as feasibility studies, topographical surveys, borehole sinking, site clearance, geo-technical surveying, site fencing and construction of administrative structures.
There have been previous calls for reversal of the Gwanda project over lack of progress. - New Ziana