EAC countries held single-digit inflation in 2013

Saturday January 04 2014
cereals mkt

Cereals trader at an open air market. East African countries maintained single-digit inflation rate for the better part of last year, thanks to a good harvest that stabilised prices of food and drinks. Photo/FILE

East African countries maintained single-digit inflation rate for the better part of last year, thanks to a good harvest that stabilised prices of food and drinks, an outlook that is expected to continue into 2014.

Apart from energy and transport, prices of food and drinks form a critical part in the calculation of the consumer price index (CPI), a measure that determines the average prices of a basket of consumer goods and services, sometimes referred to as headline inflation.

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In Uganda, a general decline in commodity prices coupled with low demand for goods and services helped the country to record an annual inflation rate at 5.5 per cent in 2013, the lowest in two years.

Speaking during the release of the December 2013 Consumer Price Index, Vicente Nsubuga Musoke, principal statistician at the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, said the velocity of price increases had slowed down during the year.

“Prices of goods like sugar, cement and soft drinks decreased significantly during 2013, which contributed to a reduction in the inflation rate,” he said.


Kenya on the other hand, closed the year with an inflation rate of 7.2 per cent, a decline from 8.29 per cent reported in September last year. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), in the month of December, food and non-alcoholic drinks’ index increased by 0.55 per cent.

“This was observed as a net effect of increase in  prices of some food items outweighing notable falls in others, “ said the KNBS.

KNBS said between November and December 2013, housing, water, electricity, gas and  other fuels’ index, increased by 0.01 per cent, attributed to notable rises in the cost of cooking fuels.

Tanzania maintained its inflation rate at 6.20 per cent for the second half of last year. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Tanzania averaged 7.7 per cent from 1999 to 2013, reaching an all-time high of 19.8 per cent in December 2011, and a low of 3.4 per cent in February 2003.

Rwanda closed the year with the lowest inflation rate in the region at 4.58 per cent, down  from 5.1 per cent recorded in October.

Burundi, however, recorded the highest inflation rate in the region, averaging 9.7 per cent by the end of last year.

The inflation rate in Burundi averaged 11.74 per cent from 1974 to 2013, reaching an all-time high of 44.93 per cent in May 1997 and a record low of -6.27 per cent in October 1985.

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Uganda’s inflation rate closed at 13.0 per cent in 2009, dropping to four per cent in 2010 before increasing to 18.7 per cent in 2011. It subsequently dropped to 14 per cent in 2012 before hitting the floor again last year.

“The higher inflationary pressures experienced by Uganda’s economy in the previous two years were the result of high commodity and food prices as well as a volatile macroeconomic environment,” Mr Nsubuga said.

He added that this time round, inflation had been contained by the Bank of Uganda’s policy instruments, while increased food supply in the country led to lower food prices.

On month-to-month basis, Uganda’s annual headline inflation rate for the year ending December 2013 declined to 6.7 per cent, compared with 6.8 per cent that was recorded for the year ending November 2013.