Inflation defies rising food prices to hit 16-month low


Workers arrange maize flour packets at a supermarket in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The prices paid by consumers for essential commodities like maize meal, cooking fat, onions, potatoes and white bread rose last month despite the rate of inflation in the country easing for the fifth month in a row, helped by unchanged prices of electricity.

Data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) released on Monday showed the rate of increase of basic goods and services dropped to 5.08 percent in February from a high of 5.39 percent in January.

“The overall year on year inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 5.08 percent, in February,” said the KNBS. “This was mainly attributed to increase in prices of some food items which outweighed the decrease in prices of others.”

At 5.08 percent, the inflation is within the government’s target of between 3.5 percent and 7.5 percent.

It has been consistently dropping since September last year, when it peaked at 6.91 percent before it fell to 5.73 percent in December. February’s inflation is the lowest since September last year.

However, the KNBS data showed that food inflation went up by 0.83 per cent in February from the previous month as the prices of key foodstuffs shot up, outweighing the decrease in prices of others.

The average price of two kilogrammes of sifted maize meal jumped 2.8 percent to Sh129.25 in February compared to Sh126.31 in January, while the average price of a litre of cooking fat went up two percent to Sh312.09 in February from Sh305.70 in January.

Transport fares also went up despite the retail prices of petrol and diesel remaining unchanged.