Kinshasa enters shipping business
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is entering shipping business with eyes on East Africa’s two biggest ports in Kenya and Tanzania, signalling further intent by the bloc’s newest member to ease its importation channels.
This week, officials from Kinshasa announced they had obtained yard spaces in Mombasa and Dar es Salaam to roll out offices for DRC’s new shipping line: The Lignes Maritimes Congolaises (LMC) that will start operations from June.
The decision that came just about a month after the DRC was formally admitted into the East African Community reflects the country’s desire to tap into the benefits of being in the trade bloc, where it is now cheaper and easier to import as tariffs are headed for reduction.
The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) is banking on the admission of the DRC to the East African Community to increase its business market in the region.
LMC, the state-owned shipping line mandated with maritime transport and the operation of marine vessels in DRC, is targeting to channel more import-export cargo through the Port of Mombasa, as well as raise volumes in Dar.
The LMC delegation led by director Banze Nkulu Mulunda and other government officials agreed to open office at the Port of Mombasa to coordinate imports and exports from their country.
The Kinshasa team agreed LCM will be responsible for collecting royalties from shipping lines that carry cargo to and from the DRC.
LMC has adequately addressed the issue of storage, traceability and security of its products as the DRC expects to increase its business after joining the EAC in April.
DRC is now expected to deposit the instruments of acceptance with the East African Community secretariat, agreeing to open up its market to other member states for business as it got admitted to the regional bloc.
The instruments of acceptance will see the member states trade freely with Kinshasa in line with the Common Market Protocol that allows free movement of goods and services.
Prior to admission, EAC states had to pay tariffs for imports or exports because of external rules that were applicable.
The DRC comes into the bloc with a huge market of 90 million people and the potential to contribute to an expanded market and investment opportunities to boost the EAC common market.