By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Arcadier, a Singaporean firm has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Cross River State government to brand and sell its cocoa beans across the world.
Arcadier is a fast growing MaaS (Marketplace-as-a-Service) enterprise that uses the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) technology to provide for marketplaces; a slight improvement on the online superstores already known.
And, it disclosed this in a statement on it’s website which said processed derivatives and products were included in the deal.
The company had met the Cross River Government in April, 2018 and the Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu had told the Arcadier delegation that they needed to bring forward a more convincing offer as it was proposing branded marketing under its ‘Cocoa One’ initiative while the state was still grappling with production.
However, Arcadier said that after its trade mission to Nigeria and Kenya under the auspices of the Enterprise Singapore (ESG), its, “most important partnership which Arcadier established was the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Cross River State Government of Nigeria.”
The statement continued: “Arcadier’s digital marketplace technology will be used to sell the State’s cocoa beans and derivative processed products such as cocoa butter, powder, liquors directly to the rest of the world.”
It quoted Mr. Rahul Ghosh, Regional Group Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Enterprise Singapore as saying that: “Africa is experiencing a digital boom estimated to be a USD300 billion opportunity. Given the similarities of the growth trends in Africa to that which we are experiencing in Asia, Singapore companies are well positioned to work together with local partners to deploy innovative solutions tailored to suit the market’s needs.
“There is strong interest from our companies, from developing e-commerce platforms to supporting cross border payments. Enterprise Singapore is happy to have played a part in Arcadier’s entry into the continent. It reflects how size should not deter SMEs from making giant leaps. We hope more digital companies will rise to the call and partake in the Africa opportunity.”
Also, while reflecting on the visit, Arcadier’s Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Kenneth Low was quoted as saying that: “Our visit to Africa validates our research that the region holds big opportunity for growth in eCommerce, particularly for digital marketplaces. There are many use cases for eCommerce marketplaces to disrupt traditional ways of working which will drive efficiency of trade.”
Furthermore, Arcadier posted a picture of it’s management shaking hands with the Director General of the Cross River State Bureau of Public Private Partnership, Mr. Udiba Effiong.
In its April 2018 visit, the company had praised the quality of the Cross River Cocoa Bean and offered two models – The first being a fair trade marketplace of accredited farmers to sell their produce to Cross River State and other buyers protected by escrow payment and the second being an online processed goods marketplace for producers to sell Cross River State branded cocoa goods to local and international sellers.
The president of Cocoa One, Mrs. Adaeze Umoh-Ekwueme said that Cross River had the best cocoa beans. She said that: “This is where the best food of the country and most recently you have become the cocoa capital of Nigeria.”
According to her, the initiatives of the state government made the state very attractive which was why the Cocoa one initiative was been introduced.
It is unclear if the deal remained same or there were modifications to address the issues raised by Professor Esu in their first visit.
Esu had averred that: “We will really appreciate your support and help to us as a state in baking the Cocoa cake at this point in time. When the cake is baked, that is the point we will really support your input of helping for marketing and so on.
“At this point, I think Arcadier could pioneer through some variations of its focus by seeing or exploring ways and means by supporting us in this area of baking the cake, the Cocoa cake.”
However, Mr. Low in his presentation had said that the state’s objective to produce 500,000 metric tons of Cocoa from the current 60,000 which represents 30 percent of Nigeria’s capacity placed it at the very top of investors destination.
Low who had noted that lack of processing plants, burning of farms and the shallow draft of the Calabar port was affecting the production and sale of Cocoa beans and processed derivatives had however averred that this can be tackled by, “enhancing trust and quality with price transparency through education and certified farmers; enhancing export opportunities through e-payments systems as well as enhancing a global brand through the sale of quality beans and product.”