Zambia hikes fuel price less than six months after slashing it

VENTURES AFRICA – Yesterday, Zambia reversed its decision to lower fuel prices when it increased the pump prices of petrol and diesel by 15 percent.

It comes four months after it slashed prices by 23.13 percent and 28.22 percent for petrol and diesel respectively, its energy regulator said. “This adjustment is mainly due to the volatility of the kwacha, which resulted in significant depreciation of the kwacha against the United States dollar,” the regulator–chaired by Pastor Geoff Mwape–said, referring to the local currency.

Mwape explained that although international oil prices have remained stable during the review period, the exchange rate has been volatile.

Since Zambia last cut fuel prices in January, the Kwacha has averaged K7.1 to a dollar, reaching an all-time high of 7.74 in March. Weeks before the January cut, the southern African country had slashed the pump price of petrol by 4.72 percent and diesel by 5.5 percent.

The energy board hinted that prices would be adjusted again to ensure full cost recovery in the supply chain. “Future price adjustments will be dictated by changes in the key fundamentals. The ERB will endeavor to automatically adjust prices so that cost reflectively is attained for each and every petroleum feedstock cargo and imported finished petroleum products,” said Mwape.

Meanwhile, Hakainde Hichilema, Zambia’s opposition leader, says the hike in fuel prices show that the reduction ahead of the presidential elections was only a campaign gimmick by the Patriotic Front (PF). Hichilema lost the January election to Patriotic Front (PF)’s Edgar Lungu, who was the Minister of Justice under the late president, Michael Sata.