The African continent is diverse and complex, making it an important region in global security. There are countless security challenges, including oppressive regimes, violent terrorist groups, and outbreaks of dangerous diseases. Today, one of the main threats is the influx of arms.
Main Weapons Importers
Although countries have seen a decline in arms sales to Africa, the distribution of weapons is still a major problem. The top five arms importers in Sub-Saharan Africa are Nigeria, Angola, Sudan, Cameroon, and Senegal. Other main weapons importers include Cote d’Ivoire, Malawi, Namibia, and Uganda.
The influx of weapons reflects the current unrest in these countries. Cameroon and Nigeria are at risk of insurgencies. Sudan has been in crisis for years. Angola is trying to bolster security along the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country consistently in chaos. At this point, we can only expect that the governments of these countries will continue to stockpile arms in the future as they face a variety of security threats.
Who Supplies the Weapons?
Most of the weapons did not originate in Africa. The arms are purchased from countries including China, the U.S., France, Israel, and Russia. Russia accounted for 28% of arms exports to the region. Russia’s influence in sub-Saharan Africa is growing rapidly, as displayed by their recent Russia-Africa economic conference. Russia is continuing to develop its strategy and relationship with African countries.
Brazil is another emerging arms supplier. They are the producers of the Super Tucano light aircraft, an aircraft currently being used in counterinsurgency operations in Mali, Mauritania, and Nigeria. Brazil is also working with South Africa to create the A-Darter missile.
Even weapons coming from surprising places can play a major role. For example, Belarus was one of Sudan’s main suppliers of arms before President Bashi was forced out of office.
Africa doesn’t only import weapons, but the continent is beginning to produce them as well. South Africa currently produces and exports armored vehicles across the continent as far as Egypt. They have also exported grenade launchers to Ghana.
Africa’s various security challenges are reflected by their imported weapons. Many outside countries are expanding their influence by importing arms, including Russia. One African country in particular, South Africa, is beginning to develop and export its own weapons, which will potentially change the landscape of arms imports.