The growing face of Nigerian development
I.T.B are a company that have withstood economic challenges and come out of it stronger and with a greater self belief
Writer Matt Bone
Project Manager Ben Wigger
I.T.B. Nigeria limited, part of the construction division of the Chagoury group, was formed in 1995 in Lagos. a growing demand for specialist, civil engineering services, enabled I.T.B. to focus its energies on developing an African market for its expertise. The company is proud to proclaim it is one of the only civil engineering and construction firms whose head office and main operations are based solely in Africa. I.T.B. hopes to increase home grown interest in civil engineering, promoting African expertise at home and abroad and eventually taking African engineers into the global export market. With over 2500 employees, I.T.B. has become the growing face of Nigerian development.
Fadi Sawaya, I.T.B's Managing Director, believes the company's main strength is in its ability to work on a project from scratch: "the company has always been able to undertake any construction project from conception to completion. we are very much design and build-orientated, this gives us a competitive edge as we can create plans based on project requirements and can implement cutting-edge ideas into our projects."
Turning the Corner
Over the last two years, Nigeria has seen a slowdown in the number of construction projects being undertaken, due to the lack of serious investment from both domestic and foreign companies. The economic climate has further compounded the problem, but Sawaya thinks that the worst is now behind them. The upturn that has been seen in construction markets in Lagos over the last 6 months is cause for optimism: "we have seen a small number of projects being offered for tender, but nowhere near the level we had seen before. However, there is a silver lining to this lack of smaller projects; we have been able to take stock of the company and develop new advances in construction that we are now ready to use."
With governments and private companies beginning to offer new projects in the construction industry, the market has become cyclical in that if the current trend continues, by 2015, construction in Nigeria will be back in the ascendancy and well on its way to hitting the market peaks of 2010/11.
The construction industry relies heavily on having a strong network of suppliers who can deliver their services on time and on budget. I.T.B are no different. Having been a staple of the industry for the last 19 years, they have grown a small network of local and foreign suppliers, into a global network of dedicated, reputable partners who can be relied on to deliver niche items at short notice. "Our supply chain is very much centred on local companies who deliver the bulk of our raw materials, however, if we need a bespoke item or something that is not available in the country, then we will utilise our complex global network in order to procure the item. It is a two-way street for us, we always ensure we maintain friendly, professional working relationships with all our suppliers as we rely on them as much as they rely on us," Sawaya cites. The Nigerian government has brought into place a number of new measures to help kick-start the Nigerian economy, one of which is to set targets for the number of local companies/suppliers used on civil projects. While this is not stopping contractors using foreign companies to complete a project, it is giving Nigerian businesses the opportunity to showcase their work and skills sets, while money is being re-invested into the economy.
EKO Atlantic is a planned district of Lagos, Nigeria, being constructed on land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean. It is located on Lagos' Bar Beach. The development will also have a positive environmental impact; its purpose is to stop the erosion of the Lagos coastline. The new city of EKO Atlantic is one of the most impressive urban development projects in Nigerian construction. According to the EKO Atlantic website, "EKO Atlantic will be a new home to 250,000 people and the workplace of another 150,000. The ten square kilometre development will have waterfront areas, tree-lined streets, efficient transport systems and mixed-use plots that combine residential areas with leisure facilities, offices and shops." I.T.B are proudly associated with the multibillion USD project as one of the main construction companies tasked with building upon the 10 million square metre land reclamation site. "This is a huge project for us to be a part of and something we are very proud to be working on. This city will be the new 'Eldorado' and it will showcase our talents and expertise to the global markets. our sister company South Energyx is the company responsible for the infrastructure works in EKO Atlantic, so it is a good opportunity for us to work closely together."
A Positive Future
With such a large scale project being undertaken in Nigeria, the next 12-24 months will be a very busy time for I.T.B. and it does not stop there. In 2013, the company signed a big project to work on the International Conference Centre in Abuja, estimated to cost more than US$500 million, which is financed by the Central Bank of Nigeria. I.T.B. have built conference centres before - one in Lagos and another in Oyo - but promise that this one will be the most impressive. "we have been working on the ICC in Abuja since last year, and although there have been a few technical setbacks, we are very much moving forward with the construction and we are always in discussion with the client to facilitate their requirements accordingly. This is a big project for us to work on and hopefully other investors and clients will see our work and want to work with us in the future," Sawaya says, confident in the company's ability to manage high quality projects.
I.T.B. are a company that have withstood the economic test and came out of it stronger and with greater self belief. Sawaya puts this down to two main factors: professional management and vision. "We are a market leading company but we do not just sit back and enjoy that title, we are constantly looking for new ways to make the company even better and more advanced than before. Technology and industry practices are always changing and I.T.B. will always change with them. If you do not adapt to the times, then you will be left behind, that is how our company operates."