Special Report

The Strongest Militaries in Africa

Getty Images / Getty Images News via Getty Images

The African continent has been subject to war and upheaval for much of the last century and it currently comes in second for ongoing armed non-international conflicts per region. Governments and militaries are constantly warring on the continent, ultimately displacing roughly 40 million people. In the pursuit of power, and perhaps stability, African countries have been building up their militaries in recent years with the help of foreign powers. (These are the countries with the most military expenditures.)

While parts of Africa remain hotspots, some of the more prominent nations have ensured stable rule through military power. Accordingly, countries like Egypt have reduced conflict within their own borders by having a sizable military force. Here, 24/7 Wall St. is taking a closer look at African militaries to see which one is the most powerful.

To determine the countries with the strongest military might in Africa, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2024 Military Strength Ranking from Global Firepower, an annually updated defense-related statistics website with information on 145 countries. Global Firepower ranked 145 countries based on their PowerIndex, a composite of over 60 measures in categories such as military might, financials, logistical capability, and geography. The smaller the PowerIndex value the more powerful a nation’s theoretical conventional fighting capability is. We included supplemental information regarding active military personnel, military aircraft, vehicles, and naval power as well.

Egypt currently ranks as the strongest military power on the African continent due to its Western ties, with much of this power coming from its military aircraft. It also ranks fairly high in terms of active personnel and military vehicles. Algeria is another nation that finds itself in a strong position as well. Although it does not have nearly as many military aircraft as Egypt, it has a sizable navy at its disposal.

Compared to the rest of the world only a few African nations are in the top echelon of global military powers. Much of this is due to the fact that many of these countries have underdeveloped air forces. However, they make up for this with troops on the ground and military vehicles. (These are the most powerful militaries in the world.)

Here is a look at the strongest militaries in Africa:

38. Somalia

Source: au_unistphotostream / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 3.9006
  • Active military personnel: 15,000
  • Total military aircraft: 0
  • Total military vehicles: 1,856
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 11

37. Benin

  • Military strength score: 3.8912
  • Active military personnel: 4,750
  • Total military aircraft: 3
  • Total military vehicles: 150
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 7

36. Liberia

Source: usarmyafrica / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 3.7262
  • Active military personnel: 1,500
  • Total military aircraft: 0
  • Total military vehicles: 325
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 6

35. Sierra Leone

Source: defenceimages / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 3.5433
  • Active military personnel: 13,000
  • Total military aircraft: 4
  • Total military vehicles: 100
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 10

34. Central African Republic

Source: usarmyafrica / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 3.5316
  • Active military personnel: 10,000
  • Total military aircraft: 6
  • Total military vehicles: 228
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 0

33. Madagascar

Source: annedavid2012 / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 3.0655
  • Active military personnel: 13,500
  • Total military aircraft: 5
  • Total military vehicles: 232
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 8

32. Gabon

Source: usarmyafrica / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 2.9517
  • Active military personnel: 4,800
  • Total military aircraft: 24
  • Total military vehicles: 848
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 5

31. Mauritania

Source: magharebia / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 2.9277
  • Active military personnel: 31,540
  • Total military aircraft: 24
  • Total military vehicles: 1,000
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 5

30. Senegal

Source: attawayjl / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 2.9117
  • Active military personnel: 17,000
  • Total military aircraft: 39
  • Total military vehicles: 1,104
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 4

29. Burkina Faso

Source: 39955793@N07 / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 2.8501
  • Active military personnel: 12,000
  • Total military aircraft: 21
  • Total military vehicles: 1,112
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 0

28. Botswana

Source: RollingEarth / E+ via Getty Images
  • Military strength score: 2.8353
  • Active military personnel: 21,000
  • Total military aircraft: 46
  • Total military vehicles: 587
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 0

27. Namibia

Source: usarmyafrica / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 2.7652
  • Active military personnel: 13,000
  • Total military aircraft: 32
  • Total military vehicles: 2,674
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 8

26. Republic of the Congo

Source: usarmyafrica / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 2.7282
  • Active military personnel: 8,500
  • Total military aircraft: 14
  • Total military vehicles: 519
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 6

25. Niger

Source: usarmyafrica / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 2.5988
  • Active military personnel: 25,000
  • Total military aircraft: 24
  • Total military vehicles: 912
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 0

24. South Sudan

Source: Steve Evans / Wikimedia Commons
  • Military strength score: 2.4376
  • Active military personnel: 185,000
  • Total military aircraft: 16
  • Total military vehicles: 1,920
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 0

23. Eritrea

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Military strength score: 2.4152
  • Active military personnel: 120,000
  • Total military aircraft: 20
  • Total military vehicles: 3,512
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 23

22. Uganda

Source: usarmyafrica / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 2.2405
  • Active military personnel: 45,000
  • Total military aircraft: 55
  • Total military vehicles: 3,162
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 0

21. Ghana

  • Military strength score: 2.2358
  • Active military personnel: 15,500
  • Total military aircraft: 20
  • Total military vehicles: 1,656
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 27

20. Mali

Source: yoh4nn / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
  • Military strength score: 2.1115
  • Active military personnel: 40,000
  • Total military aircraft: 42
  • Total military vehicles: 647
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 0

19. Cameroon

Source: usarmyafrica / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 2.0599
  • Active military personnel: 40,000
  • Total military aircraft: 35
  • Total military vehicles: 850
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 65

18. Tanzania

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Military strength score: 2.0587
  • Active military personnel: 27,000
  • Total military aircraft: 39
  • Total military vehicles: 712
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 12

17. Zimbabwe

Source: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images News via Getty Images
  • Military strength score: 2.0352
  • Active military personnel: 29,000
  • Total military aircraft: 90
  • Total military vehicles: 2,412
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 0

16. Ivory Coast

Source: usarmyafrica / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 1.9869
  • Active military personnel: 22,000
  • Total military aircraft: 9
  • Total military vehicles: 476
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 7

15. Zambia

Source: Rawf8 / iStock via Getty Images
  • Military strength score: 1.9851
  • Active military personnel: 15,150
  • Total military aircraft: 99
  • Total military vehicles: 506
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 0

14. Chad

Source: yoh4nn / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
  • Military strength score: 1.8607
  • Active military personnel: 33,250
  • Total military aircraft: 41
  • Total military vehicles: 1,568
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 0

13. Mozambique

Source: Stocktrek Images / Stocktrek Images via Getty Images
  • Military strength score: 1.8377
  • Active military personnel: 11,200
  • Total military aircraft: 21
  • Total military vehicles: 872
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 8

12. Kenya

  • Military strength score: 1.7629
  • Active military personnel: 50,000
  • Total military aircraft: 158
  • Total military vehicles: 4,856
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 19

11. Libya

Source: Maltaguy1 / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • Military strength score: 1.4449
  • Active military personnel: 32,000
  • Total military aircraft: 132
  • Total military vehicles: 2,890
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 7

10. Sudan

Source: David Degner / Getty Images News via Getty Images
  • Military strength score: 1.4119
  • Active military personnel: 92,000
  • Total military aircraft: 170
  • Total military vehicles: 3,648
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 12

9. Tunisia

Source: njnationalguard / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 1.2881
  • Active military personnel: 89,800
  • Total military aircraft: 155
  • Total military vehicles: 6,400
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 52

8. Democratic Republic of Congo

Source: usarmyafrica / Flickr
  • Military strength score: 1.2491
  • Active military personnel: 166,580
  • Total military aircraft: 46
  • Total military vehicles: 458
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 16

7. Morocco

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Military strength score: 1.0081
  • Active military personnel: 195,800
  • Total military aircraft: 255
  • Total military vehicles: 13,710
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 121

6. Angola

Source: Russian Ministry of Defence / Wikimedia Commons
  • Military strength score: 0.8702
  • Active military personnel: 107,000
  • Total military aircraft: 297
  • Total military vehicles: 5,500
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 40

5. Ethiopia

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images News via Getty Images
  • Military strength score: 0.7938
  • Active military personnel: 162,000
  • Total military aircraft: 91
  • Total military vehicles: 10,028
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 0

4. Nigeria

Source: EngrgeneralG / Wikimedia Commons
  • Military strength score: 0.5619
  • Active military personnel: 230,000
  • Total military aircraft: 147
  • Total military vehicles: 6,404
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 133

3. South Africa

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Military strength score: 0.4632
  • Active military personnel: 71,235
  • Total military aircraft: 194
  • Total military vehicles: 12,140
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 47

2. Algeria

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
  • Military strength score: 0.3589
  • Active military personnel: 325,000
  • Total military aircraft: 605
  • Total military vehicles: 35,990
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 213

1. Egypt

Source: Courtesy of Egyptian Military Academy via Facebook
  • Military strength score: 0.2283
  • Active military personnel: 440,000
  • Total military aircraft: 1,080
  • Total military vehicles: 77,596
  • Total navy ships and submarines: 140

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