Zambia Inflation Quickens Sixth Straight Month to 12-Year High

  • Prices rising amid power shortage and currency depreciation
  • Next Bank of Zambia policy rate decision due in February

Zambian consumer prices accelerated for a sixth consecutive month to a fresh 12-year high amid a power crisis and currency weakness.

Prices rose by 21.8 percent year-on-year in January from 21.1 percent a month earlier, the Central Statistical Office said in a statement handed to reporters on Thursday in Lusaka, the capital. Prices rose 1.3 percent in January from the previous month, it said.

Inflation has in Zambia, Africa’s second-biggest copper producer, 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.

Food inflation accelerated to 25.9 percent in January from 24.8 percent as corn and bread prices prices rose, according to data from the statistics agency.

Zambia’s trade deficit narrowed to 778.8 million kwacha ($69 million) in December from a revised 1.22 billion kwacha the month before. The value of metal exports fell 6.4 percent, the Central Statistical Office data showed. Imports fell to 7.8 billion kwacha last month from 9.4 billion kwacha in November.

The kwacha weakened 0.1 percent to 11.25 per dollar by 11:15 a.m. in Lusaka.

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