After the publication of the latest report of the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Stake experts look into the value of arms contracts to African countries over the past decade. Russia, the United States, but also France and China remain the continent’s most important armaments partners.
During the last decade, an increasing number of arms and military equipment contracts were signed with African countries. Security crises and political instabilities in several regions of the continent are among the factors behind this increase. Thus in 2010, the war in northern Mali led the government to renew a part of its arsenals. Bamako then became the first country on the continent to purchase equipment from Qatar, among others. In addition, there is the modernization of certain weapons. In particular, the launch in 2002 of the French multi-role combat aircraft Rafale has led to a wave of orders, particularly from Egypt, which aims to modernize its equipment.
However, France is only the third largest arms exporter to the African continent. The top of the podium is still held by Russia (more than 14.5 billion US dollars-worth exports to Africa over the period 2008-2018). Air defense systems and combat aircraft are the main equipment that Moscow sells to its African customers. In addition, there are increasing orders for military satellites that have proved economically affordable for economies such as South Africa, Angola, and Nigeria. Second in this ranking, the United States is among the largest contributors to African Union peacekeeping contingents. Still, their most important customers are Egypt and Morocco, which imported 2.8 billion and 2 billion US dollars respectively in arms over the period 2008-2018. American armored vehicles and missiles seem to be the most popular on the continent. Finally, China retains its reputation as the most affordable supplier. Yet African countries have only bought just 3 billion US dollars worth of weapons from it over the past decade. Warships and armored vehicles are at the top of the order list, with Algeria and Tanzania as the main customers.