In 2019, the inflation rate was 4.8% in Bamenda (1.1% in 2018), according to a report recently published by the National Institute of Statistics (INS). This is the highest increase recorded in a regional capital since 2012, according to the INS. Because of that comment, some people believed Bamenda has been the most expensive city in Cameroon during that period.
But, can the town be really qualified as the most expensive town in the country in 2019, based solely on the inflation rate? Heck No!
“No ranking of expensive cities can be made based solely on inflation data. Therefore, one cannot, at this stage, conclude that Bamenda has been the most expensive city in Cameroon in 2019 or even elaborate a ranking. Bamenda is simply the city that experienced the largest increase in the general price level between 2018 and 2019. The direct consequence has been a decline of households’ purchasing power,” the INS explains.
The Institute points out that the consumer price index used to derive the inflation rate is not an index of the cost of living. The consumer price index measures the effects of price changes on the cost of products consumed by households. On the other hand, the cost of living index measures changes in the costs of products.
For the specific case of Cameroon, INS explains, a ranking of expensive cities can be made using the consumption price component data from the household census. The most recent census is the fourth Cameroon Household Census (ECAM-4) conducted by the INS in 2014.
The data from that component helps calculate spatial indices that are used to compare the standard of living between two cities. Since Yaoundé was selected as the reference city, the results obtained from the 2014 census placed Douala as the most expensive city of the regions where the census was conducted.