This post presents two Top 25 lists of Military spenders in Africa.

The first table lists 25 countries which have the largest military spending in the continent. The Second table presents 25 countries with high military expenditure relative to their GDP.

The data is from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute(SIPRI), which is deemed an authority in the subject matter. SIPRI’s global military expenditure data serves as the sole source for the World Development Indicators(WDI) database which is maintained by the World Bank. Since the WDI database is not updated for 2010, I fetched the latest data directly from SIPRI database. [Read the explanatory notes at the bottom for the methodology.]

Table – 1: Military expenditure size from 2006-2010 [in millions of US Dollars]

Rank Country 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
1st. Algeria 3,557 4,173 4,862 5,281 5,586
2nd. Egypt 4,413 4,444 4,139 4,017 3,914
3rd. Angola 2,728 2,393 2,479 3,165 3,774
4th. South Africa 3,782 3,713 3,647 3,813 3,735
5th. Morocco 2,490 2,565 2,861 3,055 3,256
6th. Nigeria 879 1,021 1,435 1,504 1,724
7th. Kenya 530 594 567 580 594
8th. Tunisia 551 507 550 532 548
9th. Cameroon 312 327 339 343 368
10th. Botswana 301 331 346 363 352
11th. Ethiopia 469 429 343 340 338
12th. Namibia 204 228 282 300 329
13th. Uganda 263 296 346 315 276
14th. Zambia 209 151 252 212 243
15th. Chad . . 479 638 436 242
16th. Senegal 182 205 204 208 207
17th. Mali 165 179 167 174 183
18th. Congo, Dem. Rep. 238 225 162 122 163
19th. Burkina Faso 89 110 120 110 140
20th. Gabon 138 134 . . . . 134
21st. Congo 108 121 141 . . 133
22nd. Ghana 75.8 116 102 113 115
23rd. Swaziland 62.3 62.6 69.7 101 102
24th. Zimbabwe 107 . . . . . . 93.8
25th. Rwanda 73.6 68.2 71.9 75.3 77.2

Figures are in millions US Dollars, at constant 2009 prices and exchange rates.
“. .” = data unavailable.

Notice that due to unavailability of data for 2010, the table above excludes at least five countries which are likely to be among the biggest spenders.

  • Sudan – in the last available data, year 2006, Military expenditure had been 1,991 mln (or 1.9 Bln) USD.
  • Libya – in the last available data, year 2008, Military expenditure had been 1,110 mln(1.1 Bln) USD.
  • Eritrea – in the last available data, year 2003, Military expenditure had been 469 mln USD.
  • Tanzania – in the last available data, year 2009, Military expenditure had been 217 mln USD.
  • Mauritania – in the last available data, year 2009, Military expenditure had been 115 mln USD.

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Table – 2: Military Expenditure as Percentage of GDP, 2006-2009

GDP(Gross Domestic product) is the value of all goods and services produced in a country in one year. It indicates the size of a given country’s economy.
The comparison to GDP is a rough indicator of the proportion of national resources used for military activities, and therefore of the economic burden imposed on the national economy.

Country 2006 2007 2008 2009
1st. Chad . . 5.5 7.1 6.2
2nd. Angola 4.4 3.4 2.9 4.2
3rd. Algeria 2.6 2.9 3 3.8
4th. Mauritania 3 . . 3.4 3.8
5th. Namibia 2.9 3 3.4 3.7
6th. Morocco 3.3 3.2 3.3 3.4
7th. Swaziland 2 1.9 2.2 3.1
8th. Botswana 2.8 2.7 2.7 3
9th. Lesotho 2.5 2.5 1.6 2.8
10th. Egypt 2.7 2.5 2.3 2.1
11th. Kenya 1.6 1.8 1.9 2
12th. Mali 2.2 2.2 2 1.9
13th. Central Afr Rep . . 1.1 1.6 1.8
14th. Uganda 2 2 2.2 1.8
15th. Zambia 1.9 1.3 2 1.7
16th. Cameroon 1.4 1.5 1.5 1.6
17th. Senegal 1.6 1.7 1.6 1.6
18th. Rwanda 1.8 1.5 1.4 1.4
19th. Tunisia 1.6 1.4 1.4 1.3
20th. South Africa 1.4 1.3 1.3 1.3
21st. Burkina Faso 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.2
22nd. Seychelles 1.9 1.9 1.2 1.2
23rd. Tanzania 1.2 1.1 1.1 1.1
24th. Congo, Dem. Rep. 2.4 2 1.4 1
25th. Ethiopia 1.7 1.3 1.1 1

“. .” = data unavailable.

Notice that due to unavailability of data for 2009, the table above excludes at least five countries which are likely to top the list  in Military expenditure compared to GDP(Gross Domestic Product).

  • Eritrea: in the last available data, year 2003, Military expenditure had been as big as 20.9% of the GDP.
  • Burundi: in the last available data, year 2009, Military expenditure had been as big as 3.8% of the GDP.
  • Djibouti Sudan: in the last available data, year 2009, Military expenditure had been as big as 3.9% of the GDP.
  • Sudan: in the last available data, year 2006, Military expenditure had been as big as 3.4% of the GDP.
  • Sierra Leone: in the last available data, year 2009, Military expenditure had been as big as 2.4% of the GDP.

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Note relevant to both Tables

Figures for Cameroon, Congo, Senegal are for the adopted budget, rather than actual expenditure.
Figures for Burkina Faso do not include military pensions.
Figures for Central African Rep., Swaziland, Libya are for current spending only (i.e. exclude capital spending).
Figures for Senegal do not include spending on paramilitary forces.

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Note on the Ethiopian Military expenditure data

With regard to Ethiopia’s Military expenditure: You might notice inconsistencies between the data presented here and the data on my previous post,  which is based on World Development Indicators(WDI) database. For the last five years, the Military expenditure per GDP data of SIPRI is 0.3-0.5% lesser than the corresponding figures in the WDI database. Though the difference has little effect on the ranking, it is curious – as WDI uses ISPRI’s data. One probable cause is that while the data on WDI referr to fiscal years(July-July), the SIPRI figures are adjusted to reflect calendar years(January-December.)

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EXPLANATORY NOTES

The main purpose of the data on military expenditure is to provide an easily identifiable measure of the scale of resources absorbed by the military. Military expenditure is an input measure which is not directly related to the ‘output’ of military activities, such as military capability or military security. Long-term trends in military expenditure and sudden changes in trend may be signs of a change in military output, but such interpretations should be made with caution.

Sources of the data: The sources for military expenditure data are, in order of priority: (a) primary sources, that is, official data provided by national governments, either in their official publications or in response to questionnaires; (b) secondary sources which quote primary data; and (c) other secondary sources.

The first category consists of national budget documents, defence white papers and public finance statistics published by ministries of finance and of defence, central banks and national statistical offices. It also includes government responses to questionnaires about military expenditure sent out by SIPRI, the United Nations or the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The second category includes international statistics, such as those produced by NATO and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Data for most NATO countries are taken from NATO defence expenditure statistics as published in a number of NATO sources. Data for many developing countries are taken from the IMF’s Government Financial Statistics Yearbook, which provides a defence line for most of its member countries. This category also includes the publications of other organizations which provide proper references to the primary sources used. The three main sources in this category are the Europa Yearbook (Europa Publications Ltd, London), Country Reports of the Economist Intelligence Unit (London), and Country Reports by IMF staff.

The third category of sources consists of specialist journals and newspapers.

Definition of military expenditure: Although the lack of sufficiently detailed data makes it difficult to apply a common definition of military expenditure on a worldwide basis, SIPRI has adopted a definition as a guideline. Where possible, SIPRI military expenditure data include all current and capital expenditure on: (a) the armed forces, including peacekeeping forces; (b) defence ministries and other government agencies engaged in defence projects; (c) paramilitary forces, when judged to be trained and equipped for military operations; and (d) military space activities. Such expenditures should include: (a) military and civil personnel, including retirement pensions of military personnel and social services for personnel; (b) operations and maintenance; (c) procurement; (d) military research and development; and (e) military aid (in the military expenditure of the donor country). Civil defence and current expenditures on previous military activities, such as veterans’ benefits, demobilization, conversion and weapon destruction are excluded.

In practice it is not possible to apply this definition for all countries, since this would require much more detailed information than is available about what is included in military budgets and off-budget military expenditure items. In many cases SIPRI cannot make independent estimates but is confined to using the national data provided. Priority is then given to the choice of a uniform definition over time for each country in order to achieve consistency over time, rather than to adjusting the figures for single years according to a common definition. In cases where it is impossible to use the same source and definition for all years, the percentage change between years in the deviant source is applied to the existing series in order to make the trend as accurate as possible. In the light of these difficulties, military expenditure data are not suitable for close comparison between individual countries and are more appropriately used for comparisons over time.

Where possible, SIPRI military expenditure include all current and capital expenditure on:

  • the armed forces, including peace keeping forces
  • defence ministries and other government agencies engaged in defence projects
  • paramilitary forces when judged to be trained, equipped and available for military operations
  • military space activities

Such expenditures should include:

  • personnel
    • all expenditures on current personnel, military and civil
    • retirement pensions of military personnel
    • social services for personnel and their families
  • operations and maintenance
  • procurement
  • military research and development
  • military construction
  • military aid (in the military expenditures of the donor country)

Excluded military related expenditures:

  • civil defence
  • current expenditure for previous military activities
    • veterans benefits
    • demobilization
    • conversion of arms production facilities
    • destruction of weapons

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References:
http://www.sipri.org/databases/milex/definitions;
http://www.sipri.org/databases/milex/sources_methods;
SIPRI Military Expenditure Database (
http://milexdata.sipri.org

Daniel Berhane

Daniel Berhane

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