Zambia hits highest inflation rate due to food price hikes

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Southern Times Writer

Harare - The annual inflation rate in Zambia increased to 10.5 percent in September 2019 from 9.3 percent in the prior month.

According to Trading Economics, this is the highest inflation rate in almost three years, amid rising prices of food (12.4 percent vs 10.3 percent in August) as the country has been struggling with a severe drought which is causing a shortage of the staple food mealie meal and a looming humanitarian crisis.

Meantime, poor rainfall is affecting electricity generation created mostly through hydroelectric power, a situation that has driven the country to import power from South Africa starting in October. On a monthly basis, consumer prices rose 1.2 percent, after increasing 0.7 percent in the previous month.

The month of September witnessed diverse inflation rates in the different economies of the southern region.

Namibia's annual inflation rate declined to 3.3 percent in September 2019, its lowest level since November 2015, from 3.7 percent in the previous month, as prices slowed mostly for transport (2.5 percent vs 6.1 percent in August); alcoholic beverages and tobacco (3.3 percent vs 3.9 percent) and restaurants and hotels (2.8 percent vs 3.4 percent).

In contrast, cost continued to advance for food and non-alcoholic beverages (4.4 percent vs 4.1 percent); housing and utilities (2.0 percent vs 1.9 percent); miscellaneous goods and services (2.7 percent vs 2.3 percent); furnishings (3.1 percent vs 3.0 percent); communications (2.5 percent vs 1.7 percent) and recreation and culture (4 percent vs 3.5 percent).

On a monthly basis, consumer prices went up 0.3 percent, after rising 0.1 percent in the previous month.

Statistics Botswana reported that the annual inflation rate in Botswana rose to 3.0 percent in September 2019 from 2.9 percent in the previous month. This is the highest inflation rate since March, mainly due to prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages (2.5 percent vs 2.0 percent in August); transport (6.2 percent, the same pace as in the prior month) and miscellaneous goods and services (5.1 percent vs 5.0 percent).

However, cost slowed for housing and utilities (1.6 percent vs 1.8 percent); furnishings (2.1 percent vs 2.2 percent) and health (0.9 percent vs 1.1 percent). Also, inflation was steady for clothing and footwear (at 1.2 percent); recreation and culture (at 0.1 percent) and education (at 3.2 percent). On a monthly basis, consumer prices edged up 0.1 percent, the same pace as in the previous month.

Zimbabwe is no longer recording inflation on year-on-year but on a month-on-month rate. Zimbabwe's month-on-month inflation rate decreased to 17.70 percent in September 2019, its lowest level since May, from 18.07 percent in August. This is the third consecutive month that price growth slowed, mainly due to prices of transport (16.8 percent vs 32.6 percent in August).

Meanwhile, cost continued to climb for food and non-alcoholic beverages (19.5 percent  vs 18.6 percent ); housing and utilities (15.5percent  vs 13.7percent ), amid continued hikes in electricity tariffs to support the indebted power utility Zesa Holdings; clothing and footwear (17.5 percent  vs 10.8 percent ); miscellaneous goods and services (35 percent  vs 18.8 percent ); recreation & culture (18 percent  vs 12.7 percent ) and furnishings (14.7percent  vs 11.2percent ). The government has suspended the publication of year-on-year inflation figures until February 2020 following the adoption of a new currency.

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