By Remi Adebayo
The prospects of developing the tunnelling and underground space sector to support Nigeria’s infrastructural deficits has received a significant boost with the adoption of the country as the 74th member Nation of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association during its General Assembly in Bergen, Norway.
Nigeria officially became ITA’s newest member nation through the platform of the Tunnelling Association of Nigeria at its 43rd General Assembly which was attended by over 1,500 delegates of industry experts, drawn from the academia, consultancies, contractors, equipments and materials manufacturers.
Climax of the historic moment was presentation of certificate of National Membership by the ITA President, Prof Tarcisio Celestino to the TAN President, Abidemi Agwor, who represented the country at the gathering.
Sequel to its seat on the ITA, Nigeria is accordingly entitled to fully enjoy all the privileges granted other member nations as contained in the bylaws governing the world body.
Expressing delight at the feat, Agwor is optimistic that, “Membership of the ITA will certainly boost the efforts that have previously been put into initiating the extensive promotion of using our underground space in Nigeria.
“We have set ourselves a 10-year strategic plan which we expect not just to achieve but surpass and being a member nation of the ITA is key to us meeting these goals.
“As an association with global relevance, part of our objectives is to promote the Sustainable Development Goals as set by the United Nations, especially the goals that directly affect water and sewage, infrastructure and habitable environment, we are aware that these are also core global objectives of the ITA,” Agwor stressed.
In his remarks Celestino noted that; “Nigeria’s membership of the world’s tunnelling and underground body shows strong determination of Africa’s most powerful economy to attain the goals fixed by the United Nations.”
Delegates at the summit which held between June 9 – 15 shared experiences on methodologies and state-of-the-art technologies on different aspects of tunnelling and underground construction.
Similarly, challenges faced by stakeholders in the industry were discussed in order to achieve a unified industry response towards solving them in order to arrest issues of infrastructural deficiencies facing urban populations in cities across member nations.
Currently, annual global tunnelling economic output stands at €86bn, representing 26 percent increase from 2013; out of which Asia and Europe represent 75 percent of the global market while Africa currently stands at two percent largely from hydropower installations suggesting the need for increased activities in the sub-Saharan Africa.
Earlier in the year, TAN, under its registered name, Association of Tunnelling Operators of Nigeria, held its first Nigeria International conference having in attendance the international president and Mr Olivier Vion who is an Executive Director of the ITA, among other participants that converged on Lagos from Nigeria and the foreign nations for the summit.
Nigeria is the most populous black nation in the world and currently 7th most populous nation in the world. Nigeria’s population is expected to grow rapidly to become the 3rd most populous nation in the world behind China and India which is expected to leap frog China to the first in the next 20 years.