Steve Umidha @steveumidha
Kenyan households should prepare for a tightening squeeze as the cost of living is set to skyrocket in coming days triggered by rising fuel costs, drought and a likelihood of power bills surging.
On Wednesday, the Energy Regulatory Commission increased the cost of petroleum products for the seventh consecutive month piling more pressure on households and motorists as they have to dig deeper into their pockets for the commodities.
Drought has pushed food prices to new highs and could lead to the government importing subsidised maize if rains fail in the next season. Should power bills be hiked next month, then the country could be staring at tough times. Energy Cabinet secretary Charles Keter has asked Kenyans to brace for higher power bills due to the decline of water levels in major hydropower stations.
Between December last year and January this year, prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks rose by 1.69 per cent mainly due to increases in prices of some foodstuffs which outweighed the falls in others, according to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).
Three months on, KNBS’ monthly tracker of economic update and Consumer Price Indices (CPI), shows inflation is at its highest level for more than two years, while retail sales have significantly lost momentum.
The year-on-year food inflation during the month also increased from 4.68 per cent in December last year to 4.71 per cent in January 2018, with housing, water, electricity and gas prices also climbing by 0.90 per cent during the review period.
Economists say that no sector appears to escape the ripple effect of high-power-bill-regime and dry climatic conditions are now betting big on the much-awaited long rains, which are expected to begin sometime in March or early April, to change the condition.