The IMF has warned that rising food prices will be a major challenge for the Congo this year; rising food and fuel prices are alleged to have contributed to civil unrest in Burkina Faso, Tunisia and Uganda this year, and Global food prices have risen 30% since last year, says the World Bank. So it is worthwhile looking at their impact on the tense situation in the Congo before elections. According to Minister of Information (aka the Congolese vuvuzela) Lambert Mende, taxes on food have been cut to help consumers.
Here are the price for the past year, courtesy of the Food Security Portal.
Commodity Prices ($US/Kg)
Dec 10 Jan 11 Feb 11 Mar 11 Apr 11 May 11
Maize Prices 0.41 0.42 0.40 0.42 0.43 0.50
Rice Prices 0.63 0.60 0.59 0.63 0.69 0.72
This is in line with central bank stats that record inflation in the year to date at 12%, which would come out to 17% year-on-year. That is not good, but we should also recall that the country saw inflation of over 50% in 2009. Here is another metric, provided by FAO, but only updated to March this year.
In addition, fuel prices - which affect the transport of all of these commodities - have gone up in the past few weeks due to international fuel prices and tax changes in the Congo. Fuel prices in Kinshasa have gone from $1,2 to $1,3 per liter.
Doesn't look good. But perhaps not as combustible as elsewhere?