Harare - Zimbabwe and China have signed a deal worth US$1.3bn that will see the development of thermal power stations in the southern African country in return for chrome, state radio reported on Sunday.
The radio station said the memorandum of understanding was signed in Beijing and witnessed by Zimbabwe's vice president, Joyce Mujuru, who is on an official visit to China.
Three thermal power stations will be developed in the Zambezi Valley and Hwange. The radio report said that under the agreement Chinese machinery and expertise would be provided in exchange for chrome.
Zimbabwe is experiencing acute shortages of electrical power. Frequent power cuts are disrupting business and manufacturing in the country, adding to the economic woes of a country already staggering under inflation of 1 193%.
Under the agreement signed with China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation, a new thermal power station with an output of 600 megawatts will be built in Zimbabwe's remote northern Dande district.
Zimbabwe already has power stations in Hwange that have fallen into disrepair.
President Robert Mugabe's government has begun a new drive to obtain international credit and investment through bartering some of its extensive mineral wealth.
Recently the country's central bank signed a $50m deal with a French commercial bank to assist the country pay for fuel imports. The deal was backed up by guarantees from the Bindura Nickel Corporation, a major local player.
Like much of the southern African region, Zimbabwe is next year expected to be hit by massive shortfalls of electrical power. Presently Zimbabwe imports 30% of its electrical energy requirements from South Africa and Mozambique, as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).