The cost of motor and cooking fuels in Kenya is on a steady rise, pushing up energy inflation.
The price of kerosene and charcoal, which are used by millions of citizens for cooking and lighting, has risen by 3 and 2 percent respectively in the last one month.
A 4kg tin of charcoal used in both urban and rural homes in Kenya stands at an average of 0.80 U.S. dollars, up from 0.78 dollars, with the rise being blamed on increased demand as people search for cheaper fuel.
A litre of kerosene, which is the poor’s fuel in the country, currently is going for 0.62 dollars from 0.60 dollars in the last review.
Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), which sets prices for kerosene, petrol and diesel, has warned that fuel prices will continue to go up in the next reviews following a rise in the cost of the commodity in the international market.
Kenyans should, therefore, expect a marginal rise in prices of all major fuels, with users of kerosene among the worst hit. Also on the rise is liquefied petrol gas (LPG), which many citizens had embraced in past months following a major drop in the cost.
The cost of a 13kg LPG (cooking gas) cylinder has surged to 24 dollars, down from 21.3 dollars over a month ago. A 6kg cylinder, on the other hand, is going for 12 dollars from 10 dollars.
Consumers are already feeling the pinch, with many who had embraced LPG going back to kerosene and charcoal to cut costs.
“Demand for charcoal has increased in the past weeks,” said dealer Stephen Mesonik on Saturday.
“At least some of my customers who had disappeared weeks ago are now back. I am happy that business is back on track,” added the trader who is selling a tin at 0.82 dollars.
However, Mesonik who runs his business in Komarock on the east of Nairobi, noted that rise in demand is not the only thing pushing up the cost of the commodity.
Heavy rains that are currently pounding several parts of the East African nation have also interfered the supply of the commodity.
“When it rains as heavily as it is doing now, it becomes difficult to burn charcoal. This disrupts supply contributing to the rise in prices,” said Mesonik, who gets his wares from traders in Narok county, an area that has experienced heavy rains resulting in floods.
Economics lecturer Henry Wandera noted that energy and food inflation will be the biggest contributors to overall inflation, which is now at 7.08 percent from 6.31 percent, in the coming months.
“The two are interrelated, with rise in cost of fuel affecting the price of food items,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have nocontrol of the factors that lead to the rise in food and energy inflations. We have no control over international oil prices and at the same time, we cannot stop the heavy rains that will destroy and disrupt food supply.” Enditem