The Sunday Mail
The US$1,2 billion expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station’s units 7 and 8 is making steady progress, with hundreds of mainstream jobs created so far while close to $150 million has been invested in the first phase of implementation.
At least 3 000 jobs are expected to be created under the project, which has been identified as one of the key economic enablers as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration advances its vision of turning Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
The project, which will add 600MW to the national grid, will take Zimbabwe closer to its plans of exporting electricity within three years.
Giving an update on the project’s progress to The Sunday Mail, Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Jorum Gumbo said the US$144 million recently availed for the project had given oomph to the expansion plans.
“It is one of the projects that we have placed under the Rapid Results Initiative. The project has received a facility of $144 million from China Eximbank. The status is that the work towards draw-down modalities and clearance of the conditions precedent is in progress.
“On its own Hwange was allocated an initial $78 million which will accumulate to $144 million over three years; the main conditions precedent being the signing of the agreements by the ring-fenced customers who form part of the securitisation of the loan.”
Dr Gumbo said China’s government was fully behind the project, with Sinohydro the main contractor and China Eximbank providing the bulk of funding.
The minister added, “Commencement on the project started on August 1 and the RRI work plan is already done.
“Sinohydro has commenced on detailed designs and reviews of designs. There is also the issue of transmission and distribution works. Contractor has submitted conceptual designs, revised documents for substations and power line documents.
“Regarding the work site, temporary works for warehouse foundation for Sinohydro staff dormitories and canteen construction, all these works are estimated to be at about 60 percent complete.
“For the actual power plant, excavations for coal-handling site, boiler house and machinery area, pulling tower and workshop area, ash layering and pipe rerouting are all in progress at about 78 percent.
“A detailed geo-technical investigations report in preparation for detailed designs has been generated and circulated.
‘‘The final report is to be submitted by Sinohydro this month.”
Dr Gumbo said Zimbabwe Power Company officials would soon be in China for due diligence assessment of subcontractors.
He said Hwange 7 and 8 expansion had been accorded National Project Status in line with its significance to the economy.
Sinohydro Zimbabwe MD Mr Wu Yifeng said they were satisfied with progress.
“The project is making progress on the schedule. China Eximbank has made the first disbursement with the amount of about $150 million,” he said
“The contractor, Sinohydro, is busy on the procurement of main manufacturing equipment in China. On the site, Sinohydro and ZPC engineers are working hard to close the designs and technical specifications.
“At the same time, a temporary camp has been constructed and earth levelling works is ongoing in preparing for excavation of plant foundation.”
Sinohydro was behind the Kariba South Expansion that took just 14 months to complete, adding 300MW to the national grid.
The Hwange project was one of several developments prioritised for implementation when President Mnangagwa met China’s President Xi Jinping in Beijing this year.