10 African Countries With the Highest Military Strength and Firepower

Annually, the Global Fire Power ranks countries of the world based on their military strength and firepower. In their unique ranking of African countries with the highest military strength and firepower, up to 40 different tools and parameters were used, including the number of active front-line and reserve personnel, tanks and armored fighting vehicles, aircraft like fighters/interceptors and helicopters, naval strength and coastal defense crafts, resources and defense budget, logistics, among many other factors.

These criteria are used in such an approach that a smaller country with good military intelligence and technology competes favorably well with a highly populated country with lots of great foot soldiers while landlocked countries are not penalized for lack of an active navy. This means that the military strength of a country is not basically determined by only the size of her ammunition. Also, the population of a nation doesn’t really determine the strength of its military.

More important is the fact that it is definitely not cheap to maintain a standing army, navy, and armed forces and it is a general rule that military strength goes along with economic power. This is why most countries with the largest economy are also among those with the highest military strength. In Africa, it is not wrong to say that the same principle applies because these top 10 African countries with the best military also happen to be among those with a significantly strong economy.

Here Are The Most Powerful African Countries With The Strongest Military Strength And Firepower


Population: 6.7 Million

(Ismail Zitouny / Reuters/Landov)

The 2011 Libya revolution has placed a big question mark on the military capabilities of a country with a population of just over 6 million. Almost 3 million citizens are fit for service out of its entire 3.5 million manpower. Just about 118,000 people reach service age each year but these small numbers correlate quite oppositely to the artillery and ammunition the country boasts of when compared with other African countries.

Libya boasts 500 tanks, 2,500 armored fighting vehicles, 400 self-propelled guns, 800 rocket projectors, 1050 potable AT weapons, over 600 aircraft and 121 helicopters, as well as $880 million pumped into defense every year.

9. Sudan

Population: 43.1 Million

Image Source

Sudan, known officially as the Republic of Sudan, is a country in North-East Africa and home to more than 43 million people. It was the largest country in Africa and the Arab world by area until the succession of South Sudan. Currently occupying 1,888,068 square kilometers, it is the third-largest country in Africa, as well as the Arab world.

There are about 16 million people (35.8 percent) who are fit for service out of the 25 million (55.8 percent) available manpower. The number of active front-liner personnel stands at 104,000 with over 189,000 total military personnel and additional 85,000 active reserve personnel. About 1.2 million people (2.8 percent) reach military age (18 years old) annually in the country. The country boasts of several military types of equipment supplied mostly by China, Ukraine, Soviet, and Russia all backed by over $ 2.5 billion defense budget per year. It also has a weapons production company known as Military Industry Cooperation.

The country’s standard-issue battle rifle is now an H&K G3 variant that is domestically manufactured by its weapon company – The Dinar. Its military had 200 T-54/55 main battle tanks and 70 Type 62 light tanks in 2007. However, a 2011 study conducted by IISS shows that Sudan has 360: 20 M-60, 60 Type 59, 270 T-54/55, and 10 ‘Al Bashier’ (Type-85-IIM) which is a licensed version of the Type 85M-II tank. It also has Chinese Type 96 tanks and 218 armored cars (2007), and also 15 Soviet BMP-2.

The country also recorded 42 US M-113, 19 US LAV-150/V-100 Commando, Soviet BTR-152/BTR-50, 20 Czech, or Polish OT-62/OT-64. 104 Egyptian Walid ordered between in 1981-1986.

It had 778+ artillery pieces and 20 pieces of self-propelled artillery with multiple rocket launchers. There were also several anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons alongside anti-aircraft guns, among other military equipment.

8. Congo

Population: 101. 7 Million

image source

Officially Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo or DRC), the country has a population of about 101,780,263 million. Almost 34.1 million people make up the country’s manpower and more than 27. 2 million of these are fit for service. When it comes to military strength and firepower, Congo has been a force to reckon with. The country’s military consists of the Congolese army, the airforce, the marine navy, and the National Gendarmerie.

There are ‘nearly 134,000’ soldiers or active personnel with 2.1 million people reaching military service age yearly alleged to be 18-45 years of age for voluntary and compulsory military service in 2012. The country’s military or defense expenditures took 1.2% of GDP in 2012. Congo budgets about $100 million yearly through which it has purchased over 1300 armored vehicles and tanks, over 900 artillery, 2 aircraft, over 2000 support vehicles, 48 fighting vehicles, small arms, 2000 anti-aircraft weapons, guns, among others.


Population: 108.3 Million

Ethiopian Military

Ethiopia has a population of over 108.3 million. It is Africa’s oldest independent country and its second-largest in terms of population. Ethiopia has found a way to transform its population into a military stronghold in Africa. With a manpower of 41.1 million people, 25.5 million of the masses fit for active service, and almost 2 million people reach the military age every year, the country is one of the strongest in Africa.

Moreso, Ethiopia has over 800 tanks and 780 armored vehicles, 183 multi-launch rocket system (MLRS), 81 air crafts, and 39 helicopters to hover around any country plotting any form of invasion. Ethiopia’s defense is supported by 162,500 front-line personnel and over $350 million defense budget to take care of things every 365 days.


Population: 35 Million


The kingdom of Morocco is a country in the northern region of Africa with a population of over 35 million. The country’s military arm known as the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces is responsible for land-based military operations but in addition to the army, Morocco also has the Navy, the Air Force, the Royal Guard, the Royal Gendarmerie, and the Auxiliary Forces.

There is about 17 million available manpower with over 14.5 million people fit for service, 310,000 people in active front-line service, and 200,000 active reserve personnel. The military personnel is 510,000 while over 600,000 reach military age every year. Morocco has about 6000 anti-tank weapons, 1,348 tanks, 2,120 armored fighting vehicles, 323 total aircraft, 139 helicopters, 70 coastal defense craft, and spends over $10 billion in the defense budget.


Population: 30 Million

Angola Military


Angola is the 5th largest country in Africa with a population of over 30 million and is located in southern Africa. These are three components of the Angolan military: the Army, Navy, and Air Force and all of these have combined manpower in excess of 6.2 million divided into 107,000 active front-line personnel and 3.1 million people fit for service.

Also, about 320,000 people reach the military age yearly. Angola has over 400 tanks, 1000 armored fighting vehicles, 298 towed-artillery, 270 total number of aircraft, 98 helicopters with 15 attack helicopters, 82 fighters/ interceptors. The country’s naval strength is boosted with 30 coastal defense crafts and 2 mine warfare and with a defense budget of over $7 billion, Angola is sure to continue to see strong military growth.


Population: 203 Million


Nigerian Military

Located at the shores of West Africa is the country that is home to a staggering 203 million people and with the available manpower of over 77 million people, there are more than 43 million people who are fit for service. Also, the country has 3.5 million people reaching the age of military service every year. There is 120,000 active military personnel in Nigeria.

When it comes to military requirements, Nigeria boasts of 363 tanks, 680 towed-artillery, 4000 utility vehicles, 70 artilleries, over 500 mortars, 400 anti-aircraft guns, and more than 1,400 armored fighting vehicles. Nigeria has 96 total air crafts and 36 helicopters, 51 coastal defense crafts, and 2 mine warfare. The large population is kept safe with a yearly budget of over $2.1 bn.


Population: 59 Million

South African Army


The Republic of South Africa is an African country located at the southern tip of the continent. South Africa is the 25th largest country in the world by area and the 24th most populous country with over 59 million people resident. When it comes to military power, South Africa has what it takes to be among the top countries in Africa – strong enough to be recognized. Half of South Africa’s population is within the manpower class; over 14 million are fit for service and almost a million people (964,139) are getting to military age annually.

South Africa has 88,000 active front-line and 17,000 active reserve personnel. On military equipment, South Africa has hundreds of tanks and 1430 armored fighting vehicles, 118 self-propelled guns, 240 rocket projectors, and 213 total number of air crafts. About 4 frigates and 3 submarines keep the shores safe and there is over $4.2 billion spent on defense every year.


Population: 48 Million

Algerian Military

Algeria is a country consisting of 48 provinces and 1541 communes. It is the 33rd most populated country on earth with a population of 42 million. More than 20 million people (49.8 percent) make up the manpower and over 17 million citizens (42.1 percent) are within the active service year. Algerian military has 280,000  military personnel and it is made up of a modern army, navy, and air force. The country is largely financed by oil and Sonatrach, the national oil company, is the largest company in Africa generating revenues in excess of $76.1 billion and employing over 120,000 people as of 2012.

Algeria has the second-largest army in Africa and in the Arab world, after Egypt, and has Russia and China as her strategic allies and arms furnisher. 685,686 individuals reach the military age annually. There are over 130,000 active front-line and 150,000 reserve personnel.

Algeria is equipped with more than three thousand tanks, over 1000 infantry fighting vehicles, over 4000 armored fighting vehicles, over 400 air crafts, 188 helicopters, 6 submarines, and more than 1000 artilleries and guns. With a defense budget of over $13 billion, Algeria will continue to be among the African countries with the best military strength.


Population: 99 Million



Egypt is a country located in the north of Africa with a staggering population of 99 million people and has faced major political crises in the recent past but this has not changed its position as a leading African country when it comes to military strength. A significant percentage of Egypt’s population (over 36 million – 36.3 percent) are fit for active military service out of its entire 43 million manpower and more than 1.6 million ( 1.6 percent) individuals reach the military age every year. With almost 5000 tanks, including armored fighting vehicles, self-propelled guns, and towed artillery, Egypt is a force to reckon with when it comes to Africa. The country has over 300,000 anti-tank systems, over 3000 man-portable air defense, as well as more than 1000 mortars.

Having more than 1,100 aircraft, including 245 helicopters, 343 fighters, 390 trainer aircraft, and 28 mine warfare, 84 serviceable airports, and a budget of over $4 billion pumped into Egypt’s defense every 365 days make the Egyptian military the strongest among other countries in Africa.

Africa’s 2020 Military Strength Ranking (GFP)

African ranking Countries World ranking
1 Egypt 9
2 Algeria 28
3 South Africa 29
4 Nigeria 42
5 Angola 56
6 Morocco 57
7 Ethiopia 60
8 DR Congo 71
9 Sudan 76
10 Libya 80
11 Tunisia 81
12 Kenya 84
13 Uganda 86
14 Chad 87
15 Zambia 88
16 Zimbabwe 91
17 Mali 96
18 Burkina Faso 97
19 Cameroon 101
20 Niger 103
21 Côte d’Ivoire 104
22 Ghana 106
23 Botswana 108
24 Tanzania 109
25 Mozambique 116
26 South Sudan 117
27 Congo 121
28 Mauritania 124
29 Madagascar 125
30 Namibia 128
31 Central African Republic 129
32 Gabon 130
33 Sierra Leone 134
34 Somalia 136
35 Liberia 137



Featured Today

Related Stories