NIGERIA raised its military spending by 56 percent in 2021, to reach $4.5bn in response to numerous security challenges such as violent extremism and separatist
insurgencies, according to new data on global military spending published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday.
Apart from extremists and separatists, President Muhammadu Buhari’s embattled government has had to deal with armed conflict between farmers and cattle herders, and the growing trend of kidnappings for ransom.
The most recent act was earlier this month when an Abuja-Kaduna train was attacked, with eight people killed and another 168 apparently kidnapped.
The SIPRI report said that African countries increased their overall military expenditure by 1.2 percent in 2021 to an estimated $39.7bn.
It said the total for Africa was almost evenly split between North Africa (49 percent of the regional total) and sub-Saharan Africa (51 percent).
Military expenditure in sub-Saharan Africa last year totalled $20.1bn, 4.1 per cent higher than in 2020, but 14 per cent lower than in 2012.
The 2021 increase in sub-Saharan Africa, the first since 2014, was primarily driven by Nigeria, the biggest spender in the sub-region.
South Africa, the second largest spender in the sub-region, slashed its military budget by 13 percent, to $3.3bn in 2021 due to the country’s prolonged economic stagnation.
Kenya, Uganda and Angola were, respectively, the third, fourth and fifth largest military spenders in sub-Saharan Africa last year.
Over the decade, 2012–21, Kenya and Uganda both faced insurgencies that influenced their military spending, SIPRI said.
Between 2012 and 2021, military expenditure rose by 203 percent in Uganda but remained relatively stable in Kenya, down by 4.5 percent.
In Angola, spending fell by 66 percent over the same period due to the worsening economic conditions in Angola.
This was largely caused by low oil prices and slumps in its oil production since 2015, followed by the slow pace of economic recovery in more recent years.
Between 2012 and 2021, African military spending followed three distinct trends: first rising continuously between 2012 and 2014, followed by four years of decline until 2018 and then three consecutive years of growth until 2021, to give an overall increase of 2.5 percent, the SIPRI report said.
Adedeji Ebo, Chief of the Conventional Arms Branch of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, told Africa Briefing: ‘Military expenditure is a measure of political and security conditions.’
In 2021 North African military expenditure totalled $19.6bn, 1.7 percent lower than in 2020, but 29 percent higher than in 2012.
The long-standing tensions between the two largest spenders in North Africa—Algeria and Morocco—worsened in 2021.
Algeria’s military expenditure fell by 6.1 percent in 2021, to reach $9.1bn, while Morocco’s spending grew by 3.4 percent, to $5.4bn.
In general, SIPRI said that world military expenditure last year surpassed $2 trillion for the first time, an increase of 0.7 percent in real terms.
The five largest spenders in 2021 – the US, China, India, the UK and Russia – together accounted for 62 percent of expenditure.
‘Even amid the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, world military spending hit record levels,’ said Dr Diego Lopes da Silva, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.
‘There was a slowdown in the rate of real-terms growth due to inflation.
‘In nominal terms, however, military spending grew by 6.1 percent.’