Between 2006–10 and 2011–15, major arms imports by states in Africa increased by 19 per cent, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which noted that Algeria and Morocco remained the two largest arms importers in the region with a combined total of 56 per cent of African imports.
This is according to new data on international arms transfers published by SIPRI, which noted that the three largest importers in Africa in 2011–15 were Algeria (30 per cent of imports), Morocco (26 per cent) and Uganda (6.2 per cent). Russia accounted for 34 per cent of arms exports to the region, France for 13 per cent, China for 13 per cent and the USA for 11 per cent.
States in sub-Saharan Africa received 41 per cent of total African imports. Uganda, Sudan and Nigeria were the largest importers in the subregion, accounting for 15, 12 and 11 per cent of the subregional total respectively. Russia accounted for 27 per cent of arms exports to the subregion and China for 22 per cent.
Algeria’s arms imports fell by 18 per cent in 2011–15 compared with 2006–10. However, under the known contracts, a number of significant deliveries are scheduled for the next five years, including 2 frigates from China, 2 frigates from Germany, and 190 tanks, 42 combat helicopters, 14 combat aircraft and 2 submarines from Russia, according to SIPRI.
Between 2006–10 and 2011–15, imports by Morocco increased by 528 per cent, although they remained below the level of Algerian arms imports. However, by the end of 2015 Morocco’s only large outstanding order for arms was for 150 tanks from the USA.
Most sub-Saharan African states import only small volumes of arms, despite the fact that many are involved in or close to armed conflicts. In 2015 Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria began a joint military campaign against Boko Haram. Their combined arms imports in 2011–15 accounted for 0.6 per cent of world arms imports. The combined total is 0.35 per cent if ships, which are not relevant to the campaign against Boko Haram, are excluded. Armed aircraft are a key military capability in this campaign. Imports of armed aircraft by the four states in 2011–15 included 1 second-hand, high-end combat aircraft, 8 second-hand ground-attack aircraft, 20 armed helicopters and 5 armed unmanned combat aerial vehicles, SIPRI data shows.
Mali’s largest arms procurement since the outbreak of major armed conflict in the country in 2012 was an order placed in 2015 for six basic ground-attack aircraft (Super Tucanos) from Brazil.
Asia and the Middle East Lead Rise In Arms Imports; the United States and Russia Remain Largest Arms Exporters, Says SIPRI
Regarding the rest of the world, SIPRI noted that the volume of international transfers of major weapons has grown continuously since 2004 and rose by 14 per cent between 2006–10 and 2011–15.
Six of the top 10 largest arms importers in the 5-year period 2011–15 are in Asia and Oceania: India (14 per cent of global arms imports), China (4.7 per cent), Australia (3.6 per cent), Pakistan (3.3 per cent), Viet Nam (2.9 per cent) and South Korea (2.6 per cent). Vietnam’s arms imports rose by 699 per cent. Arms imports by states in Asia and Oceania increased by 26 per cent between 2006–10 and 2011–15, with states in the region receiving 46 per cent of global imports in 2011–15.
“China continues to expand its military capabilities with imported and domestically produced weapons,” said Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. “Neighbouring states such as India, Vietnam and Japan are also significantly strengthening their military forces.”
Arms imports by states in the Middle East rose by 61 per cent between 2006–10 and 2011–15. In 2011–15 Saudi Arabia was the world’s second largest arms importer, with an increase of 275 per cent compared to 2006–10. In the same period, arms imports by the United Arab Emirates rose by 35 per cent and those by Qatar went up by 279 per cent. Egypt’s arms imports increased by 37 per cent between 2006–10 and 2011–15, primarily due to a steep rise in 2015.
“A coalition of Arab states is putting mainly US- and European-sourced advanced arms into use in Yemen,” said Pieter Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. “Despite low oil prices, large deliveries of arms to the Middle East are scheduled to continue as part of contracts signed in the past five years.”
With a 33 per cent share of total arms exports, the USA was the top arms exporter in 2011–15. Its exports of major weapons increased by 27 per cent compared to 2006–10. Russian exports of major weapons increased by 28 per cent between 2006–10 and 2011–15, and Russia accounted for 25 per cent of global exports in the recent 5-year period. However, in 2014 and 2015 Russian exports returned to the lower annual levels observed in 2006–10.
Chinese exports of major arms were just above those of France in 2011–15, growing by 88 per cent compared to 2006–10. French exports decreased by 9.8 per cent and German exports halved over the same period.
“As regional conflicts and tensions continue to mount, the USA remains the leading global arms supplier by a significant margin,” said Dr Aude Fleurant, Director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. “The USA has sold or donated major arms to at least 96 states in the past five years, and the US arms industry has large outstanding export orders, including for a total of 611 F-35 combat aircraft to 9 states.”