By Keren Mikva
When it comes to the military strength of all African countries, the keywords to consider are “not enough information.”
The Global Fire Power ranking, or GFP, measures countries’ military strength and assigns a power index number in order to compare them to other countries. Many factors are taken into consideration, and smaller countries can compete with larger ones due to points given for refinement and technological advancement.
Just seven African countries are ranked by the GFP. An inadequate amount of information is available to compare other countries that are not included. Based on available information, the following countries represent the most powerful militaries on the African continent in 2013, according to GlobalFirepower.com.
Numbers reflect each country’s power index, derived from a unique algorithm developed by GFP. A perfect score is a 0.0000. The lower the number, the stronger the military, and bonuses and penalties are added to country scores as needed.
7. Libya – Power Index: 1.8428
The strength of Libya’s military comes mainly from its large cache of equipment, despite a relatively small number of active troops. Further hampering Libya’s abilities is the continuing violence and unrest stemming from the revolution begun in 2011 which has yet to see a stable government emerge from it. Regardless, the country still has available 2,500 armored fighting vehicles, 500 tanks, 600 towed artillery pieces, 6,500 logistical vehicles, and much more.
6. Kenya – Power Index: 1.6237
Kenya has established itself as a vital participant in international peacekeeping missions, and is able to do so due to a high merchant marine strength and an enormous labor force – resulting in high available manpower. Though it doesn’t possess as much of its own equipment, its role as a member of international teams allows the Kenyan military to share resources with other countries, strengthening its own capabilities at the same time.
5. Algeria – Power Index: 1.4107
As Algeria has a large maritime border, it has developed all of its military capabilities to an impressively modern degree, including its land, sea, and air forces. Algeria’s active frontline personnel numbers more than 127,000 troops and it has nearly 2,000 armored fighting vehicles at its disposal. Algeria also has the added benefit of its own oil reserves, allowing it to use its own fuel to power tanks, aircraft carriers, naval vessels, and more.
4. Nigeria – Power Index: 1.3441
Due to its size, it’s no surprise that several hundred thousand troops comprise the Nigerian Armed Forces, through its army, navy, and air force. Like Algeria, an abundant domestic oil supply eases the financial burden to be involved in military conflict, and it has more than 1,400 armored vehicles, 360 tanks, and 6,000 logistical vehicles at its disposal, as well as nearly 300 aircraft and 25 high-powered naval vessels.
3. South Africa – Power Index: 1.2582
As it hasn’t been embroiled in an international military conflict for some time, South Africa uses its highly advanced military for more peacekeeping and international cooperation purposes. Its aircraft and naval vessels are notoriously well-equipped with the latest technology, and though the country has less than 100,000 active frontline personnel, it has the capabilities and manpower for much more. Add to that a vast array of land system technology, and the South African military is indeed a force to be reckoned with.
2. Ethiopia – Power Index: 1.1725
As a landlocked country, Ethiopia has focused its resources on developing its army and air force to an impressive degree (the GFP doesn’t penalize landlocked countries for not having a naval force). Several hundred thousand personnel make up its current force, and they have significant numbers of land and air systems at their disposal. Furthermore, an enormous population that is fit for service allows Ethiopia to maintain the capacity to turn out an even larger fighting force, and gives the country one of the greatest militaries on the continent.
1. Egypt – Power Index: 0.7569
Egypt is put over the top with regard to military strength due to the sheer size of its armed forces. Nearly 500,000 personnel serve on its active frontline force, far surpassing all of its African neighbors, as well as its nearly 10,000 armored fighting vehicles, 60,000 logistical vehicles, 900 aircraft, and large oil reserve from which to draw. Again, the military has been somewhat undermined in the wake of the Egyptian Revolution, but some argue that its increased role in government has made it stronger than ever. Whether or not this is a cause for celebration or concern will remain hotly debated for some time to come.