Kenya’s inflation rate has risen to 9.2 pc in February, edging ever closer to the double digit mark as the country grabbles with rising costs of food and fuel.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the rate of inflation in the last 12 months has risen from 9.0 pc to 9.2 per cent as pressure mounts on the Kenya Kwanza government to bring back subsidies and fuel.
Opposition leaders have repeatedly urged the government to reinstate subsidies which were removed when President William Ruto took over power in August 2022.
Food commodities experienced the highest inflation at 13.3%, rising from 12.8% in January. The prices of food has the greatest impact on inflation rates because it accounts for a third of all household purchases.
The major cause of food inflation in Kenya currently is supply shortage due to prolonged doubts. Kenya has not experienced stable rainfall in the past six years, which has reduced food production significantly. Vegetables, maize flour, wheat flour, and cereals are the most affected food products since they are the most consumed; yet their production has reduced over the years.
“Prices of most vegetables increased in February 2023 relative to January 2023. The prices of cabbages and carrots each increased by 11.3 percent while kale (Sukuma Wiki) and tomatoes increased by 11.0 percent and 7.8 percent respectively,” KNBS managing director Macdonald Obudho said.
The KNBS statement further reports that housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels’ index increased 0.4 percent between January 2023 and February 2023. The prices of LPG gas rose by 4.7% while fuel prices recorded inflation of 12.9%.
President Ruto based his campaigns on lowering the cost of living and increasing household incomes, but the reality now is different. Despite his promises, Ruto is insistent that he will not go for short fixes such as subsidies on food.
Instead, President Ruto has subsidized fertilizer and other farm inputs to boost food production, which is expected to increase food supply and reduce prices in the next 6-12 months.
The Kenya Central bank raised its lending rate to 7.85 between May and November last year when the inflation rate breached the upper limit of 7.5%. Despite the monetary policy, inflation continues to rise and the cost of living is worsening in the country.