The 2009 figures were the first using US dollars so there was no annual comparison and analysts remain cautious.

"Things are slow, we are really struggling to get started," John Makumbe, a political analyst, said.

"The change that the people of Zimbabwe expect is not going to come through easily because basically Zimbabwe doesn't have the money to finance the change processes," he said.

"It is a fact that without some really big money coming into the government of Zimbabwe there will not be any meaningful change, or visible change that will occur because [the country] is clearly bankrupt."

Hyper-inflation has destroyed the value of Zimbabwe's own dollar, but the new unity government of Robert Mugabe, the president, and Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister, has raised hopes of rescuing the once prosperous country.

Previous official figures showed inflation at 231 million per cent in July, but economists said it rose far higher.

Tendai Biti, the finance minister, last month projected inflation would fall to just 10 per cent by the end of this year as the use of foreign currency would help to stabilise prices.

US-based Foreign Policy magazine called Biti's comments the "wackiest of all" government claims.