Sailing To The Ceiling?

Implications of the cost of fuel prices in Kenya.

Over the past three months, Kenyans have felt the heat of ever-increasing fuel prices. The prices have shot up on the account of the growing demand for oil as economies shake off the impact of the COVID- 19 pandemic and the more recent Russian-Ukraine war. The Kenyan shilling has also weakened against the dollar implying that fuel importers will use more shillings to import the same volumes of oil. This led to oil vendors withholding products from the Kenyan market while diverting fuel to neighboring countries in a bid to compel the government to track their payments as well. The Kenyan government had partially withdrawn the fuel subsidy sending diesel and petrol prices to an all-time high since October last year.

With historic heights, the super petrol and diesel prices shot by sh. 5.50 signaling the increase in the cost of basic goods and services hence having a direct impact on the Kenyan economy. The energy and petroleum Regulatory Authority (APRA) set the new retail prices at sh.150.12 for a litre of super petrol and sh. 131 for diesel. This single-handedly shows that there will be tough times for households and motorists given that fuel is the key determinant of the basket of goods and services used to measure inflation. When the fuel prices increase a larger share of the household’s budget is likely to be spent which leaves less to spend on other goods and services. For businesses, whose goods must be shipped from place to place the shipping prices will be much more expensive therefore increasing the prices of goods. This price has also shifted the growth of the economy through its effect on supply and demand for goods and services brought about by the production costs increasing slightly higher than expected.

Despite the increase in fuel prices the government committed to pay marketers an estimated sh. 14.39 billion as a subsidy to prevent further price escalation. The subsidy has come under increased pressure as the state struggles to compensate for the high deltas amid the global rally in crude prices. Apart from straining the government finances, higher fuel prices drive up inflation which sees lots of economic policies not being implemented. The inflation rate is expected to rise by 50%   in the coming months with prices of commodities’ becoming unsustainable.

Global Trade Amidst Russia -Ukraine War

The war between Ukraine and Russia has yet again put the global economy at the verge of collapsing even before the world fully recovers from disruptions caused by the COVID19 pandemic. For the past two years, unexpected events have significantly changed the way we do our things. The International Monetary Fund has warned that the fight between Russia and Ukraine could pose a great economic threat that could hurt the anticipated post-covid 19 recoveries. Global economy profoundly remains affected by the negative impact of the pandemic. However, there is slight stability in the second half of 2021 amid Omicron that threw the global markets into a frenzy.

Countries that have economic links with Ukraine and Russia are at particular risk of scarcity and supply disruption and are most affected by the increasing commodity supply. Recently the US government promised to sanction Russia for potential retaliation and this has already seen a push down of stock markets and driven up gas and oil prices. This clash could cause dizzying spikes in energy and food prices, fuel inflation fears and spook investors, a combination that threatens investment and growth in economies around the world.

For Kenya’s economy alone Kenyans have been forced to dig deeper into their pockets because of the cost of fuel due to the strengthening of the dollar relative to Kenya shillings meaning that the country will spend more on imports. This has seen the cost of fuel rise by ksh.5 and a total jump in oil prices which has hit $100 per barrel.

The world’s major economies, from Russia to the US are experiencing a multi-year high in inflation levels due to shortages in the supply of commodities whose demand is growing because of lifting covid-19 restrictions. For Kenya, food prices are expected to rise while imports will suffer delay in delivery. Manufacturing Industries may experience imported inflation which could put further pressure on the shilling against the US dollar. To mitigate the ongoing war the European Union should speedily find a solution to the war to salvage the already suffering world economy caused by Covid -19 pandemic.