THE annual rate of inflation has jumped to 13.9 per cent in February, up from 12.5 per cent recorded in January, the highest on record since October, 2016, according to the Zambia Statistics Agency (ZSA).

Announcing Zambia’s annual rate of inflation for the month of February, ZSA Interim Statistician General Mulenga Musepa said the continued rise in inflation this month was largely attributable to increased food and non-food prices.

“The year-on-year inflation rate as measured by the all items Consumer Price Index (CPI) for February, 2020, increased to 13.9 per cent from 12.5 per cent recorded in January, 2020. This means that on average, prices of goods and services increased by 13.9 per cent between February, 2019, and February, 2020,” Musepa told journalists in Lusaka, Thursday.

“The increase in the annual rate of inflation was mainly attributed to the price increase in both food and non-food items.”

He added that both the food and non-food inflation rate had significantly increased, which fed into the overall annual rate of inflation, mainly on account of rising maize grain prices and rental fees, among others.

“The year-on-year (annual) food inflation rate for February, 2020, was recorded at 15.9 per cent compared to 15.4 per cent recorded in January, 2020. This development was mainly attributed to price movements of food items, such as maize grain and meats (chicken, beef and pork sausage, T-bone and mixed cut),” Musepa said.

“The year-on-year (annual) non-food inflation rate for February, 2020, was recorded at 11.6 per cent compared to 9.4 per cent recorded in January, 2020, indicating an increase of 2.2 percentage points. This increase was mainly attributed to items such as rentals, cement, purchase of vehicles and transport services (mini bus, coach and taxi fare and air fare).”

Of the total 13.9 per cent annual inflation rate recorded this month, food and non-alcoholic beverages accounted for 8.4 percentage points, while non-food items accounted for 5.5 percentage points, according to Musepa.

ZSA data reveals that Zambia’s annual rate of inflation of 13.9 per cent recorded this month peaked to an over three-year high since October, 2016, when inflation was at 12.5 per cent before it dropped to close 2016 at 7.5 per cent.

The Bank of Zambia (BoZ) has projected that the country’s annual rate of inflation will remain high over the forecast period of eight quarters up to the end of next year, mainly driven by high food prices.