Back in January the government brought in a number of price caps for certain foods and drinks, in an effort to control inflation. There seem to have been a few consequences of this move.
First of all there was a shortage of soft drinks. Prices for bottles of Pepsi and Coke and the like were limited to around 5 birr (around 20 pence), which meant a lot of bars and restaurants stopped selling them as no profit could be made. After a few weeks they started to reappear but perhaps there’s a lesson there for people wanting to discourage the sale of less healthy products – not to set minimum prices but set maximum prices instead which would take the profit out of it. It won’t catch on though.
Then shortages of sugar and cooking oil were reported up and down the country. The government have opened shops that sell just these products, and whenever a new supply comes into town long queues and big crowds start to form. Even in Abi Adi we can see this happening. Prices for other goods and services continue to rise, even on a daily basis. When we arrived in September a meal was 12 birr, now it’s 18 birr. At the recent Easter celebrations people were paying 700 birr for a goat, last year it was about half that price. And just today bread has gone up from 2 birr to 3 birr. Here’s a picture of people waiting to buy cooking oil…
Finally, here’s the view from a Peace Corps volunteer in the south of the country.