Arms Race | Africa’s Biggest Military Spenders Revealed

Posted May 16, 2013 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Africa ~ 7,665 views



$9.3 billion

Algeria has oil. It also has a long-standing border dispute with Morocco (ranked 4th) and it wants to make sure it is not caught short-footed. Still, if it comes to money it wins the African arms race, with a budget that is more than three times the size of that allocated in 2000. The country is one of the world’s top 10 arms importers and has the second-largest military on the continent, after Egypt. Algeria has been pushing to modernize its force, both for sovereign security and to address the growing threat of Islamist terror groups – made more acute by the massive hostage drama that took place at an oil refinery there last year.

02. South Africa

$4.4 billion

A lot of controversy surrounds South Africa’s buying of military hardware, particularly because it has been neglecting its ground forces – at a point one of the strongest in the world. But priorities have shifted back to this backbone of its military, especially as the country wants to establish itself as one of the go-to peacekeeping force for the continent. It was present in the Central African Republic and is part of a new force headed to the DRC. Unfortunately the armed forces are in a bad shape, with a report in 2012 lamenting this sad state, including too few personnel and outdated equipment.

03. Angola

$4.1 billion

Modernization is the main focus of Angola’s defence budget, which is the highest since 1999. Much of the momentum is coming from increased oil revenues, allowing the government to spend more. Security is also a motivator: though the country is stable, the picture is not so rosy in its central African neighbours. Angola is also keen to develop a more modern and professional army, one that shuns the image of the military created during its three-decade long civil war.

04. Morocco

$3.4 billion

One big reason for Morocco’s military spending, which is the highest in twenty years, is its on-going standoff with Algeria. The two countries have disputes over borders, as well as the Western Sahara region. Though analysts doubt either would opt for outright conflict, it is not unheard of them to show off their military muscle to influence negotiations.

05. Libya

$2.9 billion

Getting its military back on track is a big priority for Libya, which plans to spend around 10% of its national budget towards this. Despite the reputation of the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s armed forces, in reality it is extremely outdated. That doesn’t take into consideration how it was decimated during NATO airstrikes and how many of its weapons have flooded across borders into North Africa, fuelling much of the militant uprising in the region.

06. Nigeria

$2.3 billion

Domestic and regional stability are key concerns for Nigeria. It sits with the largest military in West Africa, supported by a budget that is only smaller than that of education. Spending on its military has been increasing over the last decade and by 2016 Nigeria could leapfrog several spots to sit in the top 3 positions. The country is keen to flex its muscle as a regional peacekeeper. But it also has to deal with internal problems, specifically militants in the Niger Delta and the Islamist group Boko Haram.

07. South Sudan

$964 million

South Sudan’s high military budget is no surprise: it’s a new country and naturally wants to protect its sovereignty. One can almost be certain that were it not for the oil deals shared by Sudan, the northern neighbor would be tempted to invade its southern breakaway cousin. Still, rebel groups from the north are a routine problem (as are groups from the south which attack Sudan). With such security concerns, bolstering the country’s rather motley armed forces must be a principle concern.

08. Kenya

$798 million

As a major player in the East African region, Kenya has been expanding and modernising its military over the past decade. In the last three years it has bought eight warships, dozens of armored vehicles and heavy-duty engines. It is not hard to divine the reasons behind this build-up: Kenya routinely deals with militias from across its borders, most infamously al-Shabaab in Somalia. It has also been fighting piracy in the Indian Ocean – it is the only African country with ships in Somali waters – and is keen to become a big player on the African landscape.

09. Tunisia

$709 million

While under the rule of President Zine Abidine Ben Ali, who was deposed during the Arab Spring protests, Tunisia’s military was kept rather lean. This was mainly to ensure that it wouldn’t turn against the dictator in a coup. Ironically it still played a role in his downfall, by refusing to shoot protesters. As such Tunisia has had a relatively lean budget in recent years – though all still around the $500 million mark. But the amount has also been rising year on year – 2012’s budget is double the amount paid in 1990.

10. Namibia

$407 million

The budget for Namibia’s military has slowly been rising over the past decade. 2012’s 3.9% of GDP is nearly double what it was in 2000, while in real money the military receives a third more than ten years ago. The intentions, though, are peaceful: Namibia wants to maintain a state-of-the-art military, so it regularly acquires new weaponry and also frequently sends personnel for training. Last year it bought a large naval vessel that can carry 250 people, as well as numerous other weapons from countries such as Israel, Russia and China.

10. Côte d’Ivoire

$407 million

The Ivory Coast’s defence budget has been getting progressively bigger chunks of the country’s GDP every year, taking in 1.8% this year – a number matched only in 2009. But it’s unclear what the long-term plans are behind this spending: the military has long had a strained relationship with the various governments of the Ivory Coast. It has also lost a lot of equipment in the numerous civil wars and conflicts of the last decade, including an incident where French soldiers destroyed several military aircraft.

Source — Stockholm International Peace Research Institute 2012 Report.

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


Be the first to comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.