Kenyans continue to suffer due to high food prices despite a law that gives the Government power to set the prices of essential commodities.
There have been a number of issues that led to the current high cost of living including drought which led to crop failure, dying herds of livestock, and increased food insecurity.
Further, with hydropower being the cheapest source of energy in Kenya, poor rains increase energy costs, their effects spilling over to other sectors. The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) said that the country’s inflation dropped to 9.21 percent year-on-year in June, from 11.70 percent in May.
KNBS further noted that the year on year food inflation dropped from 21.52 percent recorded in May 2017 to 15.81 per cent in June 2017 adding that generally, prices of most non-food items remained relatively stable during that period.
As it can be seen from the table below, a 90-kilogram bag of dry maize is currently retailing at an average market price of 4,329 shillings across the country. This means that on average, households are buying a kilogram of maize at 48.1 shillings.
A 115-kilogram bag of maize on the other hand was being sold as follows: 5,200 shillings in Mombasa, 3,200 shillings in Nairobi, 2,400 shillings in Nakuru, 2,000 shillings in Kisumu, 1,800 shillings in Eldoret and 1,200 shillings in Kitale.
According to the world Bank report on the state of the Kenyan economy, the medium term, economic growth was projected to rebound to 5.8 percent in 2018 and 6.1 percent in 2019, consistent with Kenya’s underlying growth potential.
But while the medium- to long-term outlook appears favorable, Kenya’s economy remains vulnerable to downside risks. These include potential for fiscal slippages, a more prolonged drought in 2017, and external risks from a weaker than expected growth amongst Kenya’s trading partners, as well as uncertainties related to US interest rate hikes and the resultant stronger dollar.
Key in ensuring that the cost of living in the country favors households, commodity prices have to be checked and reduced so as to enable people be able to access basic commodities.
Agricultural productivity can also be improved by increasing the competitiveness of agricultural input and output markets. New engines for economic growth need to be supported, such as unlocking the affordable housing market.