13 African Countries With The Strongest Militaries

By Peter Pedroncelli AFKI Original Published: September 11, 2017, 10:14 am

Africa is home to some of the strongest militaries in the world, with one North African country in particular featuring in the top 10 of the global list.

Global Firepower produces an annual military ranking that takes into account 50 factors to determine a list of the most powerful armies in the world from a selection of 133 countries.

Factors such as total manpower, active military personnel, aircraft numbers, combat tank numbers and total defense budget have been taken into consideration when deciding on the strongest military presences in the world and in Africa.

Here are the 13 African countries with the strongest militaries.

Sources: CIAFactbook, Globalfirepower, AfricaRanking, Businesstech.

176453560.jpg Members of the Zimbabwe National Army Photo: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty

Members of the Zimbabwe National Army
Photo: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty

13) Zimbabwe

It may surprise some to find Zimbabwe on this particular list, but the southern African nation is ranked 81st in the world in terms of its military strength, allowing it to fill the 12th place on the African continent.

Tunisian PM Habib Essid visits Tataouine

Tunisian security forces
Photo: Tasnim Nasri /Anadolu Agency/Getty

12) Tunisia

North African nation Tunisia has control over the 11th most powerful military in Africa, earning a global place on the ranking of 78th thanks to the fact that almost half of their total population is fit-for-service while they have numerous military aircraft including 12 fighter jets and 83 military helicopters at their disposal.

day in the life of Kenyan wildlife ranger

The Kenyan military is the 10th strongest on the continent. Photo: Joseph Kanyi/nation.co.ke

11) Kenya

Only one place above Tunisia in the overall rankings, according to the Globalfirepower research, the East African country has 591 armored fighting vehicles available for combat, with an annual military budget of $595 million.

Congolese Army Gen. Emmanuel Lombe Bangwangu
Photo: Alain Wandimoyi/AFP/Getty

10) DR Congo

Often engaged in conflict in recent decades, the Democratic Republic of Congo is considered the continent’s 10th strongest military presence. A total of 144,625 active military personnel give DR Congo a manpower advantage over many countries, allowing them to be the 76th strongest military in the world.

The late Muammar Gaddafi was instrumental is building Libya’s military might. Photo: Globalresearch.ca

9) Libya

Former leader Muammar Gaddafi was instrumental in building Libya’s military strength before his death in 2011, helping to place Libya 73rd in the world and ninth in Africa in terms of military might. A massive $3 billion defense budget is further proof of the North African country’s focus on the army.

Sudanese soldiers in transit.
Photo: News.Ebru.tv

8) Sudan

Stronger than the militaries of Libya, Kenya and DR Congo, the Sudanese are 71st in the world as far as their army’s strength is concerned. With 282,150 total military personnel available to Sudan at any given time, and a sizeable defense budget amounting to $2.47 billion, the country is Africa’s eighth biggest military power.

Morocco’s army is Africa’s seventh most powerful. Image: moroccoworldnews.com

7) Morocco

The North African armies are well-developed compared to most of sub-Saharan Africa, and another example of this comes from Morocco, the world’s 54th strongest military. The Moroccans have around 373,000 active military personnel, and a substantial aircraft component to their army, with 46 fighter aircraft and 50 attack aircraft belonging to Morocco, as well as over 1,200 tanks and 2,348 armored combat vehicles.

The Angolan military is well-trained. Image: portalangop.co.ao

6) Angola

With a defense budget amounting to $4.15 billion and a strong air-force that contains 60 fighter aircraft, 78 attack aircraft and 118 helicopters, Angola is Africa’s sixth strongest army and the world’s 51st.

denel_ah2_rooivalk_l7 Rooivalk Photo: military-today.com/defencetalk.net

The Rooivalk helicopter is among the world’s best. 
Photo: military-today.com/defencetalk.net

5) South Africa

South Africa is known for producing the Rooivalk, one of the best military helicopters available in the world. A global ranking of 46 means that the country at the southern tip of the continent has Africa’s fifth most powerful military. Over 2,265 armored vehicles and annual military spending amounting to around $4.61 billion weighs in favor of South Africa.

A former general in the Nigerian army, Buhari is sworn in. Photo: Asahi Shimbun/Getty

4) Nigeria

West African powerhouse Nigeria is Africa’s fourth and the world’s 43rd strongest military. This is due to a manpower availability of around 72 million, and ground attack vehicles in impressive supply, with 148 combat tanks, 1,420 armored fighting vehicles and 339 towed artillery and 30 rocket projectors.

Ethiopian fighter jets (Image: defense-update.com)

3) Ethiopia

Ethiopia is Africa’s third strongest military presence, and the 41st mightiest in the world. Ethiopia’s army has access to one of Africa’s largest populations, with around 24.8 million people fit-for-service in the country. A strong air-force is present in Ethiopia, with 24 fighter aircraft, 24 attack aircraft and eight attack helicopters under the military’s control.

Algerian Sailors conduct Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) aboard Military Sealift Command fleet
Photo: en.wikipedia.org

2) Algeria

The Algerians have Africa’s second strongest military, according to the Globalfirepower ranking, placing the North Africans in 25th position globally. Algeria earned this ranking due to a total military personnel count of 792,350 individuals, with 89 fighter aircraft, 99 attack aircraft and 257 helicopters belonging to the military, while they have access to around 6,754 armored fighting vehicles thanks to a total defense budget of $10.57 billion.

The Egyptians have Africa’s strongest military. Photo: En.Wikipedia.org

1) Egypt

Thanks to a great deal of support from the U.S. as a major ally, the Egyptians have been able to build Africa’s strongest military and the 10th most complete on the planet. Higher up in the rankings compared to the likes of Israel, South Korea and Italy, Egypt has 1,329,259 total military personnel with access to 337 fighter aircraft, 427 attack aircraft, and 46 attack helicopters, as well as 4,110 combat tanks, 13,949 armored fighting vehicles and 2,360 towed artillery, along with much more firepower.

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