THE annual rate of inflation has continued rising to hit 22.2 per cent in February, up from 21.5 per cent recorded last month, mainly induced by sustained price increases in food items, a near-five-year high, 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 disclosed that the increased inflation this month, the highest on record since March, 2016, was largely driven by huge price increases in food items, which include household essentials such as cereals, meat, mealie meal, fish and a range of vegetables, among others.

“The year-on-year inflation rate as measured by the all items Consumer Price Index (CPI) for February, 2021, increased to 22.2 per cent from 21.5 per cent recorded in January, 2021. This means that on average, prices of goods and services increased by 22.2 per cent between February, 2020, and February, 2021. This was a change of 0.7 percentage points compared to 2.3 percentage points change in January. 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 rate for February, 2021, was recorded at 27.3 per cent compared to 25.6 per cent recorded in January, 2021, an increase of 1.7 percentage points. This was mainly attributed to increases in prices of food items such as cereals; meats; fish; fruits; vegetables; fats and oils; milk and eggs.”

The country’s non-food inflation on the other hand, however, slowed to 16.2 per cent this month, down from 16.7 per cent last month.

“The annual non-food inflation for February, 2021 was recorded at 16.2 per cent down from 16.7 per cent in January, 2021. The slowdown in inflation rate was mainly attributed to the base effect in transport, the purchase of vehicles, coach fare, and taxi fares” said Musepa.

Of the total 22.2 per cent annual inflation rate recorded this month, the food and non-alcoholic beverages group accounted for a staggering 14.7 percentage points, while non-food items accounted for 7.5 percentage points, with the transport group still having contributed the highest at 2.2 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 3.6 percentage points.

ZSA data shows that Zambia’s annual rate of inflation of 22.2 per cent recorded this month peaked to a near-five-year high since March, 2016, when inflation was exactly the same at 22.2 per cent 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 recorded five years ago back in February, 2016, a period of sustained price hikes in essential food and non-food items ahead of the general election.