Annual inflation remained unchanged at 5.4% in August. On a month on month basis, prices rose 0.1% following a zero percent price change recorded in July. On a year on year basis, four of the twelve basket categories rose at a quicker rate in August than in July, this was offset by slower rates of inflation in 6 categories, while the rate of inflation in two categories remained unchanged. Prices for goods rose by 3.4% y/y while prices for services increased by 8.1% y/y.
Housing and utilities is the largest contributor to annual inflation, due to its large weighting in the basket. Annual inflation for this category increased by 8.3% y/y and fell by 0.6% m/m. Annual inflation for rental payments remained unchanged at 9.6% in August and will likely remain this high for the rest of the year. Annual inflation for the electricity and other fuels subcategory was 1.8% in August, significantly slower than inflation of 6.9% recorded in July. This follows a tariff increase passed on to consumers by the City of Windhoek in July. On a monthly basis prices within the electricity and other fuels basket decreased by 3.7%, stemming from a decrease in prices of gas products, paraffin, methylated spirits, charcoal and wood.
The second largest contributor to annual inflation was food and non-alcoholic beverages, also the second largest basket item in terms of weighting, accounting for 0.8% of the total inflation figure. Prices in this category rose by 4.6% y/y, up from the 4.3% recorded in July. Three subcategories recorded decreases in price on a year-on-year basis, such as prices for bread and cereal contracting 0.5%.
Alcoholic beverages and tobacco, the third largest category, saw prices increases of 4.8% y/y compared to an increase of 5.6% in August of 2016. Prices of alcoholic beverages rose 4.5% y/y while tobacco prices accelerated by 6.0% y/y. Transport prices increased by 2.0% y/y and 0.1% m/m. Prices related to the purchases of vehicles rose by 4.2% y/y compared to 9.6% y/y one year ago.
Namibian annual inflation in August remained unchanged at 5.4%, the lowest rate of price increases since January 2016. South African annual inflation came in at less than 5% in August, for the first time since late 2015, well within the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB) target range. Low inflation, coupled with subdued economic growth in South Africa and Namibia, provides both central banks with room to consider further rate cuts with MPC meetings scheduled for September and October respectively. Risks of higher inflation do remain, attributable to exchange rate volatility of the Rand, to which the Namibian Dollar is pegged.