A Chinese firm has been chosen to build a $1.2bn gas-fired power plant in Namibia, the state-owned utility has announced.

According to a statement from Paulinus Shilamba, CEO of NamPower, the utility has named Shanghai Electric as the preferred bidder for the combined-cycle plant, while Siemens AG has been chosen to supply the generators and turbines.

A consortium composed of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Sumitomo and Korea’s Posco Energy was named as the reserve bidder, Shilamba said.

The Kudu project at Oranjemund in the southwestern region is expected to have a capacity of 800 MW. Its fuel will be pumped from the Kudu gas field, located 170 km offshore.

According to NamPower’s project co-ordinator Muyenga Muyenga, financial close and start of construction are expected in 2015, with the plant to be operational in 2018.

When completed, the plant will be connected to the Namibian and South African grids. Around 400 MW is slated for Namibian use, which would significantly boost the nation’s power generation capacity from its current 507 MW.

A joint venture led by Shanghai Electric has also signed an agreement to build a 1200 MW coal-fired power plant in Zimbabwe.