African arms imports share up: SIPRI


Africa accounted for 7% of global major conventional weapons imports over the period 2005–2009, compared with 6% for 2000–2004. During the period Algeria and South Africa were the two largest arms importers in Africa, accounting for 43% and 28%, respectively, of the region’s imports.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says the third largest recipient of major conventional weapons was Sudan, which accounted for 5% of Africa’s imports.

The volume of international transfers of major conventional weapons for the period 2005–
2009 is 22 per cent higher than for the period 2000–2004, SIPRI says in its “Trends in international arms transfers, 2009” report released yesterday.
“Combat aircraft accounted for 27% of the volume of international arms transfers. These weapon systems are potentially destabilising, and orders and deliveries have led to arms race concerns in regions of tension in Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and South East Asia,” SIPRI added. “In several cases relatively small volumes of arms supplies to sub-Saharan African countries have had a major impact on regional conflict dynamics.”
“SIPRI data show that resource-rich states have purchased a considerable quantity of expensive combat aircraft’, adds Dr Paul Holtom, director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. “Neighbouring rivals have reacted to these acquisitions with orders of their own. One can question whether this is an appropriate allocation of resources in regions with high levels of poverty.”

Deliveries to Algeria in 2009 included the last of the 28 Sukhoi Su-30MK “Flanker C” combat aircraft ordered from Russia in 2006. Two Type-636E “Kilo”-class submarines and four Antey S-300PMU-2/SA-20B (“Gargoyle B”) and 38 96K9 Pantsyr-S1 (SA-22 “Greyhound”) air defence systems are also on order from Russia. Algeria’s neighbours Libya and Morocco received much smaller volumes of arms during this period. However, Morocco is slated for major arms imports having ordered 24 Lockheed Martin F-16C combat aircraft from the US, one FREMM frigate from France and three smaller SIGMA frigates from the Netherlands in 2008. “Libya continues to discuss the procurement of combat aircraft, tanks and small warships with several potential suppliers,” SIPRI notes.
“Worryingly, arms continue to flow to unstable parts of Africa,” SIPRI added. During 2005–2009, Sudan received armoured vehicles and military aircraft from Russia, China and Belarus. Ukraine continued deliveries of [Sukhoi] Su-25 [“Frogfoot”] combat aircraft to Chad in 2009 and completed the delivery of 110 Uralvagonzavod T-72M tanks to Kenya, although rumours continue to circulate alleging that the Government of Southern Sudan remains the intended end-user.

Kenya is also in the process of receiving 15 Northrop F-5E “Freedom Fighter” combat aircraft from Jordan and four Harbin Z-9WA combat helicopters from China. The later is a licence-produced version of the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin.
“International concerns relating to the flow of major conventional weapons and small arms and light weapons (SALW) to areas of conflict in Africa are reflected by the fact that 7 of the 12 United Nations arms embargoes in force during 2009 had African targets. In December 2009 a UN arms embargo was imposed on Eritrea. However, the enforcement of these embargoes remains problematic. In 2009 the UN arms embargoes on entities in Côte d’Ivoire, the Darfur region of Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia were seriously violated,” SIPRI says.

The five biggest suppliers of major conventional weapons for the period 2005–2009 were the United States, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The USA and Russia remained by far the largest exporters, accounting for 30% and 23% of all exports, respectively. The top five suppliers accounted for 76% of exports of major conventional weapons in the period 2005–2009, compared with 80% for the period 2000–2004.

The US delivered weapons to 70 countries and to NATO in the period 2005–2009, more than any other supplier. Asia and Oceania accounted for most US deliveries (39%), followed by the Middle East (36%) and Europe (18%). Combat aircraft and associated weapons and components accounted for 48% of the volume of US deliveries of major conventional weapons during this period. Asia and Oceania accounted for 69% of Russian arms exports for 2005–2009. Africa accounted for the second largest share of Russian exports: 14% for 2005–2009, up from 10% for 2000–2004. Combat aircraft accounted for 40% of the volume of Russian arms exports for 2005–2009.

The volume of Germany’s arms exports increased by over 100% between 2000–2004 and 2005–2009 and its share of the global market rose from 6% to 11%. Armoured vehicles accounted for 27% of German exports for the period 2005–2009. Germany exported over 1700 armoured vehicles to 21 destinations, of which over 1100 were second-hand. While European recipients represent the main destinations, German armoured vehicles have also been delivered to states in Asia and Oceania and the Americas.

The volume of France’s arms exports increased by almost 30% in 2005–2009 in comparison with 2000–2004. French exports have been boosted by deliveries of 25 Dassault Mirage-2000 combat aircraft to Greece and 34 to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as ongoing deliveries of La Fayette frigates to Singapore. In September 2009 France reached final agreement with Brazil to supply 50 Eurocopter EC-725 helicopters, four conventionally powered submarines and some of the technology required for a nuclear-powered submarine.

The UK saw a drop of around 13% in the volume of its arms exports between 2000–2004 and 2005–2009. The 24th and final British-built Hawk trainer aircraft for India was delivered in 2009, along with the first 5 of 42 built under licence in India. In 2009 the UK began delivery of 72 Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft to Saudi Arabia.

Pic: A SA Air Force Gripen fighter. Deliveries started in 2008, influencing curent SIPRI figures.