Consumer-price growth in Zambia, Africa’s second-biggest copper producer, slowed for the first time since May this month, the statistics office said.

Annual inflation slowed to 22.2 percent in this month compared with 22.9 percent in February, Zambian Statistics Agency Director John Kalumbi told reporters Thursday in the capital, Lusaka. Prices climbed 0.5 percent in the month.

“The decrease in the annual rate of inflation was mainly attributed to non-food items,” Kalumbi said. Non-food inflation slowed to 17.9 percent in March from 19.1 percent in February, mainly because of price movements in imported motor vehicles, charcoal, firewood and certain household cleaning products.

Inflation has climbed from 7.7 percent in September after the nation’s currency plunged against the dollar as metals prices fell and the fiscal deficit widened. An electricity shortfall that’s led to daily rationing lasting as long as 14 hours for businesses has cut output and increased costs. The central bank increased its key lending rate to a record 15.5 percent in November to try contain prices.

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