The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is now the third largest market for the port of Mombasa with a reported market share of 8.2 per cent, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has said.
To cement its position, Lignes Maritimes Congolaises - a DRC government-owned shipping line, began operations in June this year, becoming the latest entrant at Kenya's biggest port.
"With the formal admission of the DRC to the East African Community (EAC), more private and public organisations from the Central Africa country are setting up businesses in the country," KPA noted in an update.
A delegation from the DRC has visited the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Nairobi to survey the facility - a key hub in the transport sector. It plays a crucial role in the effective movement of cargo locally and to the transit markets.
"The team was impressed with the seamless intermodal transfer of cargo from Mombasa to ICD Nairobi via the standard gauge railway) and final evacuation through the highly efficient smart gates," KPA said.
"The ICD, which was recently upgraded, now has an annual capacity of 450,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit)." Uganda accounted for more than a quarter of the business at the port in 2018, pushing the total transit volumes up by 10 per cent from 8.6 million tonnes in 2017 to 9.6 million tonnes.
Uganda remains a key trade partner for Kenya with most of its exports and imports passing through Mombasa. Meanwhile, EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki is set to lead a delegation of the heads of the regional bloc organs and institutions and eminent regional business leaders to the DRC from September 9.
A statement from the regional bloc secretariat said the maiden mission to Kinshasa aims at enhancing awareness among DRC government officials on the existing EAC instruments, creating trade synergies and exploring and building business partnerships and immediate linkages for business associations.
The mission will kick off with a two-day forum of DRC officials and the EAC Secretariat, the East African Legislative Assembly, and the East African Court of Justice as well as the eight institutions of the bloc.
The forum will provide a platform for the heads of EAC Organs and entities to enhance awareness and understanding of the various commitments in the integration pillars and the governing instruments that are in place at the EAC level, to DRC government officials.
"This forum will create a platform to enhance understanding by DRC government officials on the EAC integration instruments such as protocols, laws, policies and strategies," Dr Mathuki said.
The DRC delegation will be led by the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen'Apala. Later, the private sector leaders accompanying the secretary-general will hold business-to-business meetings with DRC entrepreneurs.
The meeting, supported by among others, Equity BCDC, a subsidiary of Equity Group, aims at exploring opportunities for building business linkages and partnerships, in areas of common interests to develop trade and investment relations.
"Equity BCDC is honoured to be supporting this inaugural mission by the East African Community secretary-general who is leading a delegation of notable business leaders across the EAC region," said Equity BCDC Managing Director Celestin Mukeba.
"Since the DRC joined the EAC, the entire bloc now is about 300 million people offering the region a tremendous market, with massive partnership and investment opportunities across sectors such as mining, agriculture, ICT and health."