An Attempt To Defend “Sir” Wicknell Chivayo’s Actions


In Zimbabwe we have a socialite called “Sir” Wicknell Chivayo who’s known for 3 things:

  1. Showing off his immense wealth and spending it (and size),
  2. being a big supporter of the ruling regime ZANU-PF and
  3. being awarded a $200 million contract for a 100MW solar farm in 2015 that has yet to be built.

Adding 1,2 and 3 together makes 6 it seem as if there was some corruption involved, especially since he didn’t even have the lowest bid and nobody knows what work he actually does1. Unfortunately, such scrutiny couldn’t convince the courts as he was found not guilty of bribery in 2021 as well as for fraud in 2019.

More recently, Zimbabwe’s power generation company ZPC failed to get out of the deal in a court ruling. That means the contract is still valid and Chivayo will have to implement the project somehow.

Yes this sounds very shoddy but Zimbabwe is open to shoddy business after all so I’ll have to steelman his actions.

One of the most remarkable technical achievements in the current millennium has been the relentless drop in solar PV and energy storage prices with solar falling by 99% since 1980.

A graph showing Solar PC panel prices per watt from 2022 to 1975 on a downward linear trend from $100/W in 1975 to less than $0.25 in 2022

Graph from Our World In Data which got their data from the IREA and a couple other places

As for utility solar, 2020 costs have fallen to a fifth of their 2010 prices and half from 2015 when the tender was awarded:

Two graphs plotting the per-Watt cost of a 100MW fixed tilt and one-axis tracker solar project with the bar of each year being broken up into their unit costs

Source: The United State’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It includes a dataset.

Given this dramatic fall in PV costs, we can conclude that Chivayo has predicted this trend and is entitled to half of the tender which he (may have) spent on all the cars, trips and gifts which he has handily taken in advance of the project to preserve the time value of money.

Such speculative foresight is worth the great reward so instead of hating on Wicknell, we should applaud him for having faith in solar energy prices which will help us form more accurate bids for future projects.

Yeah, nah. I mean, he could just do this project on the cheap right now and carry on flexing but I doubt he will. Also, why the fuck am I being nice to speculators?

  1. Not that Zimbabwean Media is of much use. I see more articles talking about his extravagence and less about his actual work. The one source I’m particularly interested in is from a publication called The Source which investigated these tenders. While their site is down, I saw this Facebook Post by Noreen Welch which seems to be the story. In short, it’s all very shady. Sure, courts ruled not guilty but court is about what you can prove not what is true. ↩︎