THE annual rate of inflation has again jumped to 21.5 per cent in January, up from 19.2 per cent recorded in December, mainly induced by massive price increases in food items, the highest on record since April, 2016, according to the Zambia Statistics Agency (ZSA).

Announcing Zambia’s annual rate of inflation for the month of January, ZSA Interim Statistician General Mulenga Musepa disclosed that the increased inflation this month was largely driven by huge price increases in food items, which include essentials such as bread, eggs, mealie meal and fish, among others.

“The year-on-year inflation rate as measured by the all items Consumer Price Index (CPI) for January, 2021, increased to 21.5 per cent from 19.2 per cent recorded in December, 2020. This means that on average, prices of goods and services increased by 21.5 per cent between January, 2020, and January, 2021. The increase in the annual rate of inflation was mainly attributed to price increases in food items,” Musepa told journalists via video conference in Lusaka, Thursday.

“The annual food inflation for January, 2021, was recorded at 25.6 per cent compared to 20.2 per cent recorded in December, 2020, an increase of 5.4 percentage points. This development was mainly attributed to increase in prices of food items, such as bread and cereals; breakfast, roller meal, maize grain; meats; chicken; fish; vegetables.”

The country’s non-food inflation on the other hand, however, registered a marginal drop of 1.4 percentage points between last and this month.

“The annual non-food inflation for January, 2021 was recorded at 16.7 per cent down from 18.1 per cent in December, 2020. The slowdown in inflation rate was mainly attributed to the base effect in household appliances and gas (propane),” said Musepa.

Of the total 21.5 per cent annual inflation rate recorded this month, the food and non-alcoholic beverages group accounted for 13.8 percentage points, while non-food items accounted for 7.7 percentage points, with the transport group still having contributed the highest at 2.7 percentage points, followed by housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels at 1.7 percentage points, while the rest of the non-food groups accounted for the remaining 3.3 percentage points.

ZSA data shows that Zambia’s annual rate of inflation of 21.5 per cent recorded in the first month of this year peaked to a near-five-year high since April, 2016, when inflation was at 21.8 per cent after dropping from 22.2 per cent one month earlier, from an all-time high of 22.9 per cent in February of that same year.

So far, the highest annual rate of inflation remains at 22.9 per cent in February, 2016, a period of sustained price hikes in essential food and non-food items ahead of the general election that year, a trajectory again being repeated ahead of this year’s general election.