For centuries, the African continent has been beset with fighting, political upheaval, oppression and more recently terrorism, which has been one of the major reasons for strengthening armies across Africa, to avoid being run down by ragtag militias.
The strongest militaries in Africa, according to the Global Fire Power (GFP) make use of over 50 factors in its in-house formula to determine a given nation’s Power Index (‘PwrIndx’) score. This provides the final ranking while also allowing smaller, more technologically-advanced, nations to compete with larger, lesser-developed ones.
Some bonuses and penalties are added for refinement that, in the end, presents an unbiased look into the potential conventional military strength of world power.
Top 10 Most Powerful Militaries in Africa (2021)
Below are the top 10 strongest & most powerful militaries in Africa, according to Global Fire Power:
10. Libyan Armed Forces
Still reeling from the fallout of civil war born from the Arab Spring, Libya remains an unsettled, rebuilding African nation. The Libyan Armed Forces is the tenth-strongest and tenth-most powerful military in Africa, the least of this list, with a defense budget of $3,000,000,000.
The Libyan Armed Forces have a total aircraft strength of 118, 300 combat tanks and just 5 naval assets, including 1 Frigate. It has no Detroyer, Corvettes or submarines. Its active personnel are only 30,000 with no reserves.
9. Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the ninth-strongest and ninth-most powerful military in Africa with a defense budget of $162,000,000.
The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have a total of 41 aircraft strength, 175 combat tanks, and 20 naval assets with no Frigates, Destroyers, Corvettes or submarines. It has a total of 134,000 active personnel with no reserve personnel.
The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the state organization responsible for defending the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The FARDC was rebuilt patchily as part of the peace process which followed the end of the Second Congo War in July 2003.
8. Sudanese Armed Forces
The Sudanese Armed Forces are the eighth-strongest and eighth-most powerful military in Africa with a defense budget of $2,470,000,000.
The Sudanese Armed Forces boast a total of 191 aircraft strength, 410 combat tanks, and 18 naval assets with no Frigates, Destroyers, Corvettes or submarines. It has a total of 189,000 personnel, including 104,000 active personnel and 85,000 reserve personnel.
The Sudanese Armed Forces are the military forces of the Republic of Sudan. During the 39-month transition to democracy that started in September 2019, the August 2019 Draft Constitutional Declaration defines the Supreme Commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces to be the mixed civilian-military Sovereignty Council.
7. Royal Moroccan Armed Forces
The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces is the seventh-strongest and seventh-most powerful military in Africa with a defense budget of $3,400,000,000. The RMAF are large, expensive and well-trained with extensive experience in counter-insurgency, desert warfare, and combined air-land operations.
The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces have a total of 291 aircraft strength, 1,109 combat tanks and total naval assets of 121, including 3 Frigates and 4 Corvettes.
The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces military personnel stands at 346,000, including 196,000 active personnel and 150,000 reserve personnel.
The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces are the military forces of the Kingdom of Morocco. They consist of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Royal Gendarmerie, and the Royal Guard.
6. Angolan Armed Forces
The Angolan Armed Forces is the sixth-strongest and sixth-most powerful military in Africa, with a defense budget of $4,150,000,000. The Angolan Armed Forces incredibly have an aircraft strength of 285, 300 combat tanks and 57 naval strength with no Frigates, Destroyers, Corvettes or submarines.
The Angolan Armed Forces have an active military personnel of 107,000 with no reserve.
The Angolan Armed Forces or FAA are the militaries of Angola. The FAA includes the General Staff of the Armed Forces and three components: the Army, the Navy and the National Air Force.
5. Ethiopian National Defense Force
The Ethiopian National Defense Force have had a lot on its hands in recent times. From dealing with internal issues to containing the terrorist group, al-Shabaab. The Ethiopian National Defense Force is the fifth-strongest and fifth-most powerful military in Africa, with a defense budget of $340,000,000.
The Ethiopian National Defense Force has a total aircraft strength of 52, 800 combat tanks, and no single naval assets. It has just 140,000 active personnel and no reserve.
The Ethiopian National Defense Force is the military of Ethiopia. The civil direction of the military is carried out through the Ministry of Defense, which oversees the ground forces, air force, as well as the Defense Industry Sector.
4. Nigerian Armed Forces
Africa’s most populous country sits as the fourth-strongest and fourth-most powerful military in Africa with a defense budget of $2,330,000,000. The oil-rich country has been confronted with insurgency crisis in the northeastern part of the country for a while its military tries to keep the Boko Haram insurgency at bay.
The Nigerian Armed Forces boast a total of 131 aircraft strength, 253 combat tanks and total naval assets of 75. It has no frigates, submarines, and Corvettes unlike the top three on this list. Its total military strength is about 120,000, with no reserve personnel.
The Nigerian Armed Forces are the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Its origins lie in the elements of the Royal West African Frontier Force that became Nigerian when independence was granted in 1960.
3. South African National Defence Force
South Africa continues to showcase one of the more technologically-advanced militaries – backed by a mature local industry – in all of Africa. The South African National Defence Force is the third strongest and third-most powerful military in Africa with a defense budget of $4,610,000,000.
The SANDF consists of a total aircraft strength of 206, and 195 combat tanks and total naval assets of 30, including 4 frigates and 3 submarines. Its total military personnel stands around 81,000, including active personnel of 66,300 and 15,000 reserve personnel.
The South African National Defence Force comprises the armed forces of South Africa. The commander of the SANDF is appointed by the President of South Africa from one of the armed services. They are in turn accountable to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans of the Defence Department.
2. Algerian Armed Forces
The Algerian Armed Forces is the second-strongest and second-most powerful military in Africa, with a defense budget of $10,570,000,000. The Algerian Armed Forces have a total of 551 aircraft strength, 2475 combat tanks, and total naval assets of 85, including 6 Corvettes, 6 submarines, and 5 frigates.
Its total military personnel stands at about 280,000, including its reserve personnel of about 150,000.
The Algerian People’s National Armed Forces is the armed forces of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria.
1. Egyptian Armed Forces
The Egyptian Armed Forces is the strongest and most powerful military in Africa. With a defense budget of $4,400,000,000, the Egyptian Armed forces boast 1092 aircraft strength, 2160 combat tanks, and 319 total naval assets, including 4 submarines, 7 Corvettes, and 9 Frigates.
Among other things, the total 920,000 of the Egyptian Armed Forces personnel including its 480,000 reserve personnel makes it one of the largest militaries in Africa.
The Egyptian Armed Forces are the state military organization responsible for the defense of Egypt. They consist of the Egyptian Army, Egyptian Navy, Egyptian Air Force, and Egyptian Air Defense Forces.