NAIROBI, May 3- The continuing rise in food prices pushed inflation to 26.6 percent in April compared to the previous month.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicates that overall inflation rose by 4.6 percent above the 21.8 percent recorded in March due to the accelerated prices of carrots, maize flour and English potatoes which went up by 40.4 percent 13.3 percent and 8 percent respectively.
“On average, the price of a kilogram of tomatoes increased by 44.6 per cent from Sh45.75 in February to Sh66.15 in April 2008. A kilogram of carrots retailed at an average price of Sh55.61 in April 2008 up from Sh39.62 in March,” the statement read.
Fuel and power index increased by 0.8 per cent from 328.48 in March 2008 to 331.01 in April 2008 mainly due to increases in the price of petroleum products.
At the same time, the cost of a litre of diesel increased by 3.5 per cent from Sh81.44 in March to Sh84.30 in April.
However, underlying inflation rate which excludes food items from the Consumer Price Index basket has decreased from 9.8 per cent in March to 9.6 per cent in April.
Financial experts have predicted that inflation is likely to remain above the 20 percent mark for the rest of the year due to high food and oil prices currently being recorded in the global market.
The high cost of living, they warned is likely to push people in the lower middle income bracket into the low income segment, a situation that is expected to hamper poverty reduction efforts.
Citing a return to normalcy after the inauguration of the grand coalition government, Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya has pledged to contain the inflation rates at between 12 and 15 percent to match the current interest rates.
But, with the anticipated food shortage in September, the sky rocketing crude oil prices in the international arena, this will prove a tough order for the government.
The inflation is the highest level to be recorded in Kenya in more than 14 years.
The rate also puts Kenya as one of the countries in the continent with high inflationary pressures.