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Africa’s military spending sees sharp rise, fueled by North African arms race

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(Ecofin Agency) – Military expenditures on the continent have surged, with North Africa outpacing Sub-Saharan Africa, driven by the ongoing arms race between Algeria and Morocco.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) issued a report on April 22 revealing that the cumulative military spending by African countries reached $51.6 billion in 2023, up 22% from 2022.

Titled “Trends in World Military Expenditure 2023,” the report highlights that North African countries spent $28.5 billion on their militaries in the past year, a 38% surge compared to the previous year.

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Algeria and Morocco accounted for 82% of the total military spending in the sub-region in 2023. The regional tensions stemming from the Western Sahara conflict, pitting Morocco against the Polisario Front independence movement backed by Algeria since 1975, have fueled a new arms race between these Maghreb nations.

In 2023, Algeria’s military spending dropped by 7.6% to $18.3 billion, while Morocco saw a 2.5% decrease to $5.2 billion. Meanwhile, military expenditures in Sub-Saharan Africa rose by 8.9% in 2023, reaching $23.1 billion, driven by significant increases in Nigeria, the DRC, and South Sudan.

The report also notes that global military spending hit a record $2.443 trillion last year, a 6.8% increase from 2022. The largest year-over-year surge since 2009 was observed globally, with Europe, Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East experiencing substantial spikes amid heightened geopolitical tensions.

The United States, China, Russia, India, and Saudi Arabia were the top five spenders in the past year, collectively representing 60% of the world’s military expenditures.

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