CHiNT Electric reaffirms commitment to Gwanda solar project …as company VP writes to minister

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Intratrek Zimbabwe CEO Wicknell Chivayo (l) pictured with CHiNT Electric vice president Dr Lin Bosheng at the company's headquarters in China recently.

Following  Intratrek Zimbabwe’s victory in the High Court over a contract dispute involving the Gwanda solar project, its technical partner CHiNT Electric Co has this week written to Energy and Power Development minister Joram Gumbo to reaffirm its commitment to see the successful completion of the 100 Megawatts solar project, the Mail and Telegraph has learnt.

 The SHANGHAI Stock Exchange-listed company  has also committed to secure a multi-million dollar advance payment guarantee and to deliver the first quarter of the Gwanda project’s total power output within six months after advance payment.

This publication gleaned a letter authored by the globally reputable company’s vice president Dr Lin Bosheng addressed to Energy minister Joram Gumbo and copied to Finance minister Mthuli Ncube and the permanent secretary of the ministry of energy and power development Eng Gloria Magombo.

The contents of the letter shows CHiNT ‘s willingness to see the successful completion of the project which they say will give the country ‘energy generation surplus to generate the much needed foreign currency via the SADC Power pool’

“Zimbabwe and China have a long standing , cultural,moral and economic relations dating back over 60 years, so we can count on the support and goodwill of both our governments to see this project to fruition.We therefore wish to regain momentum on this project so we hereby  approach your office, reaffirming our commitment together with our local partners, to deliver 100MW of clean energy into the Zimbabwean grid in the shortest possible time,” read part of the letter.

Bosheng further hailed the local justice delivery system for acting within the rule of contractual law and vindicating the validity of the EPC contract provisions thereby giving room for both parties to work together with a common goal of national interest and development.

“We are gratified that the High Court of Zimbabwe has vindicated the supremacy of the EPC contract provisions in ruling that Gwanda project remains valid and in their wisdom, declaring the contract valid and calling for parties to engage and find each other for the benefit of the national project,” said Bosheng.
The $173 million solar project, which is set to be built in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province, appeared to have gone suffered a stunted growth after a contractual dispute between its local partner Intratrek and state power utility, Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).
CHiNT and Intratrek participated in an open tender,won and subsequently signed a contract  to execute the mega 100MW solar power generation plant in 2015.

Intratrek then approached the High Court disputing claims by ZPC that it had failed to meet performance terms of the contract and that the contract between the parties had lapsed. The court ruled that the contract is still valid.
It ordered the parties to meet by early February to map a way forward and that any party that fails to play ball will be deemed to be in breach of the original dictates of the contract.

In the letter to Gumbo, CHiNT also stated that they were ready to provide an advance payment guarantee to the tune of $51 million, being the foreign component for the first 26,1MW.

The company has proposed to implement the project in phases broken down into four modules of almost equal production capacities.
In his response, Minister Gumbo said that Government was still keen on the Gwanda project and desirous to see its successful implementation.
He also said the Ministry of Energy was open to engage CHiNT’s local partner to map the way forward, as directed by the High Court, once outstanding legal issues are resolved.
CHiNT said it awaited the intervention of the Ministry of Energy to make a decisive intervention by exhorting parties to the deal to dialogue on the way forward as directed by the court, which would demonstrate Zimbabwe’s openness for business, as declared by President Mnangagwa.

“This transaction is a litmus test to Zimbabwe’s commitment to upholding the supremacy of contracts and the safety of capital and investor rights,” submitted Bosheng.
CHiNT is a reputable conglomerate, being the fourth largest private energy enterprise in China with average net assets worth US$30 billion and average annual sales of US$9 billion. The energy company has a Chinese domestic market share of low voltage electronics and components of 40 percent.
With a staff compliment of over 29 000 worldwide, CHiNT has successfully installed an average of 5 000MW of solar generation plants worldwide, including power systems for Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company.
The company has 2 200 distributors in China and sales in over 130 countries.
“We are fully knowledgeable in this field with a track record in both manufacturing PV modules and operating PV power stations.
“We also have research and development facilities based in the US,” Bosheng said.

Dr Bosheng said CHiNT’s track record bore testimony to its competence to deliver on the Gwanda solar project to agreed specifications and will carry the lion’s share of the project’s responsibilities. The Chinese energy giant said its local partner’s responsibility was 5 percent of the project works.
CHiNT said it has played a role in the Chinese sector and is ready and eager to share its experiences, as Zimbabwe embarks on this difficult, but necessary path towards energy self-sufficiency.
Intratrek was nominated CHiNT Electric contractor of the year for 2017 out of hundreds of other international contractors. It said it holds its local partner in high esteem.

CHiNT has experience doing projects in Zimbabwe including the 132Kv Norton sub-station, 132Kv Sherwood substation, 132Kv Gweru substation, 132Kv Zvishavane substation and 132Kv Redcliff substation among others.

Meanwhile, the chief executive officer of CHiNT‘s local partner Wicknell Chivayo,who just returned from his technical partners headquarters in China for ‘de-briefing’ and deliberations, refused to shed more light on the latest development.

He said he preferred to be mum on the issue at this stage but maintained that his company’s commitment to the project was unquestionable as buttressed by his technical partners whose rich and mutual relationship with the country is historical and goes back to six decades ago.