The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) is planning to enter shipowning through a revitalised state-owned Lignes Maritimes Congolaises (LMC).

The Kinshasa-based company will be operational again from June, the East African daily reported.

The LMC website promises the acquisition of bulker and container ships and the construction of dry ports, as well as the relaunch of routes.

The line has taken yard space and will set up offices at East Africa’s two biggest ports, Mombasa in Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, signalling an intent to secure import capacity.

The move came about a month after DR Congo was formally admitted into the East African Community.

LMC will try to tap into the benefits of being in the trade bloc, where it is now cheaper and easier to import goods as tariffs fall.

The line’s partners include Italian logistics company Sogemar and state cargo agency Ogefrem, as well as Belgium’s Marinvests.

The Kenya Ports Authority is also banking on the LMC revival to increase its business in the region.

LMC, run by general director Cedrick Tshizainga, wants to increase volumes through the two ports.

A long history

A cargo run between Antwerp and DR Congo’s main port of Matadi dates back to Belgian colonial rule.

In 1946, the company’s predecessor, Compagnie Maritime Congolaise (CMC), was set up.

It was formed as a subsidiary of Belgian shipowner Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB), now controlled by the Saverys family.

CMB had an 80% stake, with the government of the Belgian Congo having 20%.