​Africa’s biggest military spenders as Ethiopia, Kenya top East Africa region

​Africa’s biggest military spenders as Ethiopia, Kenya top East Africa region
A military tank

African countries spent $39.4 billion on their military budgets in 2022, according to the global security think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) – report.

The spending, however, fell for the first time since 2018 and was 5.3 percent lower than in 2021 and 6.4 per cent in 2013.

The combined military expenditure in sub-Saharan Africa was $20.3 billion in 2022, a decrease of 7.3 per cent from 2021.

The drop could is thought to be linked to the drop in spending by two of the biggest spenders -Nigeria and South Africa.

Regionally, Ethiopia is the biggest spender, followed by Kenya and Uganda.

The two-year war with the Tigray rebels, which has since been mopped up into a peace deal, saw Ethiopia spend in excess of one billion dollars, an increase of 88 percent in both soft and hardware.

This makes Ethiopia the only country in the continent to have recorded the largest annual percentage increase in military spending, even though overall expenditure in Africa decreased during the year under review.

The report, released in April 2023, explains that Ethiopia’s massive spending coincided with the country’s renewed government offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Besides the costly war against the TPLF that began in November 2020, Ethiopia also deployed part of its troops to Somalia as part of the African Union peacekeeping force known as the African Union Transition Mission (ATMIS).

ATMIS spending is often on troop-contributing countries’ defence budgets, after which the UN reimburses the countries on equipment used in the war, while donors support the administrative and welfare expenditures on troops, the East African reported.

Kenya’s annual expenditure dropped by 0.1 percent from $1.115 billion in 2020 to $1.113 billion in 2021, while Uganda, the third East African country with the the biggest military budget, crossed the billion mark for a combined budget of $1.066 billion last year.

This was an 8.3 percent increase from the $984.7 million Kampala spent the previous year.

Both Uganda and Kenya contributed troops to the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (AtmiS), which is battling al Shabaab in Somalia.

The two countries also have a military presence in eastern DR Congo as part of the East Africa Community Joint Military Force.

South Sudan, whose data was not captured in the report, has over 300 forces deployed alongside Kenya’s Defence Forces (KDF), in DR Congo.

Africa’s military expenditure dropped for the first time since 2018 and was 5.3 percent lower than in 2021 and 6.4 percent lower than in 2013, added the report.

Nigeria’s military spending fell by 38 percent to $3.1 billion in 2022, the same as South Africa, which registered a 8.4 percent decline in expenditure in 2022 for an annual expenditure of $3.0 billion last year.

The drop is attributed to the country’s ailing economy, which has put severe pressure on government finances, leading to cuts to the military budget in 2022, SIPRI explains.

World military expenditure rose by 3.7 per cent in real terms in 2022, to reach a record high of $2240 billion.

Global spending grew by 19 per cent over the decade 2013–22 and has risen every year since 2015 (see figure 1).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a major driver of the growth in spending in 2022. Military expenditure in Europe rose by 13 per cent during the year, which was the largest annual increase in total European spending in the postcold war era.

The exceptional growth was largely accounted for by substantial increases in Russian and Ukrainian spending, but many other European countries boosted their military budgets in 2022.

 Spending increases in parts of Asia and Oceania also contributed to the global growth in 2022.

Additional reporting by The East Africa and SIPRI