16 Most Powerful Militaries In Africa [View List]

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When it comes to determining the strongest military in Africa, 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.

Based on available information, the following countries represent the most powerful militaries in Africa as of Aug. 4 2014, 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.


16. Zimbabwe – Power Index: 3.0955

The Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) include the Zimbabwe National Army and the Air Force of Zimbabwe. Being a landlocked country, they lack a naval force. The country also holds a strong paramilitary force with its own air wing. ZDF includes 30,000 active personnel, 20,000 reserves, 325 armored fighting vehicles, and 92 aircraft.

The strongest military in Africa

15. Ghana – Power Index: 2.9726

The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) are supervised by the Ghanaian Ministry of Defense, and are under the command of President John Dramani Mahama. The GAF’s external operations since the 1960s have seen involvement in turbulent international situations including the Rwandan genocide, the Iran-Iraq war, and the Lebanese Civil War. Active front line personnel number 13,500, armored fighting vehicles for the land forces number 125, and the GAF has 24 aircraft, and 23 naval vessels.


14. South Sudan – Power Index: 2.7689

Founded as a guerrilla movement in 1983, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) played a large and violent role in the disastrous Second Sudanese Civil War. Its commander-in-chief is Salva Kiir Mayardit, and it has a land force with 110 tanks, 250 armored fighting vehicles, 210,000 active front line personnel, and a tiny air force with nine aircraft.


13. Uganda – Power Index: 2.6895

The Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) was formerly the National Resistance Army, renamed after the 1995 enactment of the constitution. It has almost managed to push the violent Lord’s Resistance Army — a children’s army — out of Uganda. UPDF relies heavily on Russian, Polish, and Chinese military materials. Its land systems consist of 350 armored fighting vehicles and 25 towed artillery pieces; 43 aircraft and eight naval vessels.


12. Democratic Republic of Congo – Power Index: 2.6642

The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) started coming into its own after peace was restored following the horrendous Second Congo War, which ended in 2003. The military’s greatest asset is its land forces, although it also holds small air and naval units. Because of massive ongoing instability in the region, the U.N. has deployed armed forces to assist the FARDC. Some features of the DRC’s military include 90 tanks, 200 armored fighting vehicles, 42 aircraft types, and 20 naval vessels.


11. Sudan – Power Index: 2.3465

The Sudanese Armed Forces serve and protect the Republic of Sudan. Their units are comprised of the land forces, air force, navy, and the Popular Defense Force–the military wing of National Islamic Front. Their enemies are the rebel group the Sudan People’s Liberation Army of the Republic of South Sudan — a result of two violent civil wars that split the nation. They receive most of their military equipment from Russia and China, including 360 tanks, 400 armed fighting vehicles, 168 aircraft, and 18 naval crafts.


10. Libya – Power Index: 2.3353

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 which began in 2011. A stable government has yet to 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.


9. Angola – Power Index: 2.2599

The Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), headed by Chief of Staff Geraldo Nunda, succeeded the Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola in 1991. It has three components: the army, the navy, and the air force. Its involvement in training the armies of Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau was controversial, especially as the leaders of the 2012 Guinea-Bissau coup d’etat cited Angola’s military mission as a primary reason for an uprising. The FAA owns 920 armored fighting vehicles, 140 tanks, 270 pieces of aircraft, and has a navy of 56 craft.


8. Tunisia – Power Index: 1.8635

The Tunisian Armed Forces is composed of three mechanized brigades, one Saharan territorial group, one special forces group, and one military police regiment. They have contributed to peacekeeping missions, including during the Rwandan genocide, and were forced into border clashes with Libyan rebels in 2011 during their civil war. They hold 900 armored fighting vehicles, 350 tanks, a manpower of over five million, 139 pieces of aircraft and a total naval strength of 50.


7. Morocco – Power Index: 1.8499

Highly dependent on foreign equipment, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces have been involved in the conflict with the POLISARO, a liberation movement fighting for the independence of Western Sahara. They are involved in numerous peacekeeping missions, including in Somalia. The military has at its disposal 2,120 armored fighting vehicles, 1,348 tanks, 323 total aircraft pieces, and a total naval strength of 121.


6. Kenya – Power Index: 1.7689

Kenya has established itself as a vital participant in international peacekeeping missions, and is able to do so due to its 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. Nigeria – Power Index: 1.5261

Due to its size, it’s no surprise that several hundred thousand troops comprise the Nigerian Armed Forces — army, navy, and air force. Like Algeria, an abundant domestic oil supply eases the financial burden of involvement in military conflict. Nigeria 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.


4. South Africa – Power Index: 1.3467

As it hasn’t been embroiled in an international military conflict for some time, South Africa uses its highly advanced military for peacekeeping and international cooperation. Its aircraft and naval vessels are notoriously well equipped with the latest technology, and though the country has less than 100,000 active front line 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 a force to be reckoned with.


3. Ethiopia – Power Index: 1.3229

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 it has significant numbers of land and air systems at its disposal. An enormous population allows Ethiopia to maintain a large fighting force, and gives the country one of the greatest militaries on the continent.


2. Algeria – Power Index: 1.1698

As Algeria has a large maritime border, it has developed all its military capabilities to an impressively modern degree, including its land, sea, and air forces. Algeria’s active frontline personnel number 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.


1. Egypt – Power Index: 0.6122

Egypt puts itself 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 its African counterparts. It has nearly 10,000 armored fighting vehicles, 60,000 logistical vehicles, 900 aircraft, and large oil reserves from which to draw. 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 debated for some time to come.

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Comments 36
  • john koang

    that of s. sudan led by machar must be the most powerful one.

  • baguma kenneth

    But this has caused some countries problemsregardless the strengths , look at kenya with the elshababs saga with the foreign policy Mesur, they no they have a very strong army they get them selves involved in thos policies at the end it costs the native look at the bomb blast students in garisa university you can’t imagine.
    me I would think thy should not involve them selves in foreign policy Messur at a large point , at least to some point .
    but I credit the effort to strengthen the military force mostly my country uganda

  • Karim magimba

    Can I know the position of Tanzania army?

    • Ben

      Actually it is supposed to be number one.

  • samuel kibrom

    The most powerful military is eritrea n military africa

  • Phillip

    Thats a lie

  • Simon

    Is it because of bokoh haram Nigeria in that position or what ?

  • Curtis Agbenohevi

    I think Ghana deserve more than this,but my question is,thus this rank base on equipments or the amount of fight they fought.

  • waaberi

    the most power full military is SOMALILAND

  • lawrence

    where is Cameroon in this classification?? its not accurate

  • shiyntum ermeal kelah

    your classification to me is does not make sense, classification, no cameroon, no tchad my brother, i am disappointed…..

  • mwene Musinga

    ahahhh DR congo before Rwanda

    • mamawe

      Niba warize urazi ko kuba uwambere bidatangaje nko kuguma uri uwambere! Nawe uzaraba ko Kagame azasubirayo!

    • mamawe

      Being the first is not surprising that to remain the first. If Rwanda was yesterday before DRC, today is not yesterday! If you think is not, let us see if Kagame will return again there !!! (translated)

  • Tommy

    Nigeria is the giant of Africa….dont 4get!

    • Tommy

      Naija has d strongest millitary might in Africa

  • Garba Mohammed Gidado

    This classifications are not accurate, please reverse.

  • Bahta

    It is z truth but i think Ethiopia is the first bucs it is contributing alot of things in sudan, in s.sudan in somalia and they r brave historically bucz it is z only country which didn’t colonized by forign.

  • Amos

    What criteria was used to come up with this ranking?…..what position is Malawi


    what criteria do you follow for this ranking???????????



  • Dennis Depp Odero

    Kenya kdf most powerful……


    Do your math, if South Sudan emerged 14 after four years of independent ,what if given ten years?

  • Mujwahuke Ronald

    First is Egypt, Algeria, South Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Malawi

  • imani

    where is tanzania

  • Alpha u jalloh

    l want to know which position Sierra Leone is

  • Leulseged

    How we trust and what is the ranking value

  • Emmanuel m

    if i was allowed to make my own classification i would list them as follows.1 South Africa , due to the fact that it makes its own weapon of world class, eg Fighter Jets, Missiles and other Heavy Armor even European Nato members buy from them and mind you they volutarily dismantled their own Nuclear Asernals but still the technology to produce Nukes in a shortest possible time if squizzed beyond limit . 2 Ethiopia 3 Angola 4 Egypt 5 Ruanda 6 Uganda 7 Nigeria 8 Chad 9 Tanzania 10 Zimbabwe

  • koang kech

    i thnk south sudan shuld b no 1 in Africa instead of Egypt

  • Mwaus petr

    Point of correction with the ranking please??? Add kenya to the first line not a joke to deal with al-shabaab.. We are strong and we will always be.

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  • mworia kaimenyi

    if the nigerians army cannot contain the fight against boko haram who are in their own country how can they be ranked as the strongest military we have in africa???
    …that is ubelievable

  • mworia kaimenyi

    one can only test his/her strength by facing an opponent and the only country which has tested its miltary powers is kenya by facing the alshabaab extreemist

  • mworia kaimenyi

    we are the african ”americans” in terms of military powers…we’re the bravos

  • Muyomba Nicholas

    Do You Rank Army Strength Depending On Dormant Soldiers And Artillery Or Just Number Of Soldiers?


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