The Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) yesterday launched a digital hub, cocoa connect Africa, in its bid to boost cocoa production on the continent.
The Managing Director, NEXIM, Abubakar Bello, explained that the move was to bring all the activities of every stakeholder in the cocoa industry and the cocoa ecosystem under one platform.
Abubakar stated this on the sidelines of the International Cocoa and Chocolate Forum tagged “Putting values in cocoa in producing regions” in Lagos.
“It is about somebody who has products and meeting someone who is interested in the product. It is about connection and market information. We are putting all the stakeholders on the value chain for different commodities, but the one we launched today is for cocoa and we are also doing the same for cashew.
“We are also doing so for Shea. The idea is to have a cluster because today everything is done digitally, why should our trade be lagging behind. We must create a platform for every stakeholder to log in to purchase what they want digitally from their comfort zones,” he added.
He pointed out that the launch of the platform was not for profit making, but to boost trade facilitation and setting standards for traceability
“The platform can be used to educate farmers, it can be used to educate regulators and to pass information on latest developments.
We must create an awareness for farmers on the latest trends, there is also a need for effective regulation in the value chain,” he said.
He added that the vision of the digital hub was to unlock the boundless potential of Cocoa in Africa.
“At Cocoa Connect Africa, we offer more than just a platform; we provide an immersive experience tailored to elevate your journey in the cocoa industry,” he noted.
On her part, the Executive Director of Nexim bank, Stella Okotete, said NEXIM Bank has supported Cocoa exporters with over $100bn in the last seven years with all facilities performing and creating jobs for over 7,000 direct and 70,000 indirect Jobs for Nigeria.
She added that amongst others, NEXIM created a Small and Medium Exporters Facility (SMEF) to support exporters, stressing that NEXIM has been supporting suppliers by growing their capacities.
She commended the young entrepreneurs who are making impacts in the cocoa value chain and assured them of her support through the bank.
She added that with the recent spike in the prices of cocoa, the bank has opened up its refinancing windows to support exporters with single digit loans.
“We are sure that the cocoa exporters will take advantage of the opportunity, because it will help them to reduce the burden of the double digit interest rate. We are ensuring that we would continue to do more,” she averred.
On his part, the Oloni of Eti-Oni, Osun State and Founder, International Cocoa Diplomacy, Oba Dokun Thomson Gureje, said the International Cocoa and Chocolate Forum by International Cocoa Diplomacy is a platform for networking, partnerships, collaboration, ideas and cultural exchange, bilateral trade, opportunities, learning and forming new alliances.
He pointed out that the forum was a follow-up on the discussion at the recently concluded UK edition in October 2023.
“It is a call to action to continue the discussion where policy formation will meet investment requirements for the sole purpose of creating the cocoa culture” he said.
He added that the forum was also to bring policy makers, financial institutions and stakeholders from across the continent to explore ways of taking advantage of emerging cocoa and chocolate markets.