Zimbabwe has awarded a $1.3bn power project contract to a Chinese firm after cancelling a previous contract, the energy ministry has announced.  

The contract to add two 300-MW units to the 900 MW coal-fired Hwange power station in northwestern Zimbabwe was first awarded to China Machinery Engineering Company (CMEC) in mid-2013, but the company failed to meet a design and construction timeline, the government said.

“CMEC … failed to conclude the contract within the stipulated time frame that they had agreed upon with the Zimbabwe Power Company and the government of Zimbabwe, hence the tender was cancelled,” said energy and power development minister Dzikamai Mavhaire.

The contract has now been awarded to the second-highest bidder in the tendering process, Chinese EPC firm SinoHydro.

Zimbabwean paper NewsDay said CMEC was awarded the contract under “controversial” circumstances during the previous energy minister’s tenure.

According to the paper, CMEC’s bid was over $300m more than SinoHydro’s, which came in at $990m.

The Hwange plant currently operates at 63 per cent of its installed capacity.