Top 10 Strongest Militaries in Africa 

By Prudence Minayo

The strongest military in the world are rated using a number of factors that include personnel, chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons, armoury, tanks and fighter jets. These are among the 50 factors that were compared to determine a given nation’s power index score. The Global Fire Power (GFP) website has been ranking 140 modern military powers since 2006. 

GFP bases ratings on military capabilities on land, sea and air fought by conventional means. According to the 2021 rankings, these are the top ten strongest militaries in Africa starting with the least to the most powerful militaries in the continent. 


Power Index Score: 1.5159


Sudan’s military enjoyed enviable ratings until the country was faced with unrest leading to the removal of Omar Al-Bashir from power by the power.  Their military grew throughout Al Bashir’s rule thanks to the generous funding from Saudi Arabia. 

The military has an active force of more than 100,000 personnel , 191 aircrafts, over 400 armored fighting vehicles and  about 80 naval assets. Most of these equipment is supplied from Russia and China as the country is under sanctions from Western countries. 


Power index score: 1.4134


The Tunisian armed forces is composed of three brigades. They have contributed to peace keeping missions including during the Rwanda genocide. The Tunisian military were forced into border clashes with Libyan rebels in 2011 during their civil war.

They have over 900 armored fighting vehicles, 350 tanks, 36,000 active personnel, over 130 aircrafts and a total naval assets of 50. Tunisia has recently managed to have a stable Government and reduced militants threat on its Eastern border.


Pwr index: 1.2736


There hasn’t been much peace and stability after the demise of one of the then president Muamar Gadaffi. The Libyan military has an impressive array of equipment. The country is currently divided between the government in Tripoli and a rogue general, general Hafta who enjoys the backing of Western powers. The government in Tripoli is battling to keep the forces out of the city as it lacks a fully integrated force. Regardless, the country still has available about 2,500 armored fighting vehicles, 500 tanks and over 6,000 logistical vehicles. 

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Pwr index score: 1.0901


Ethiopia has focused its resources on developing its army and air force to an impressive degree. An enormous population, allows Ethiopia to maintain a large fighting force and gives the country one of the greatest militaries in the continent. The country has also enjoyed a cordial relationship with many of its neighbors which has enabled it to fortify its position in the continent. With internal conflicts and the threats of militants, such as Al-Shabaab, the military has worked tirelessly to bring order and stability in Ethiopia. 

It has an active force of about 140,000 troops with nearly 2 million people reaching military age annually. However, the country is facing internal conflict pitting the Ethiopian Army against the Tigray rebels. 


Pwr index: 1.0799


The Angola Armed Forces succeeded the Armed Forces of the Liberation of Angola in 1981. 

The Angola Army has three components: the army, the navy and the air force. In 2019, the president laid off 88 generals of the army. This came a year after the chief of staff lost his job when he was named by the attorney general in a corruption probe.

The Angola army currently has an active force of up to 100,000 troops, more than 580 armored fighting vehicles, 300 tanks,  over 280 aircrafts and has navy assets of over 50.

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Per index score: 0.8739


Highly dependent on foreign equipment, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces has been in conflict with the Polisario, a liberation movement fighting for the independence of Western Sahara and numerous other peacekeeping missions including in Somalia. 

In 2019, King Mohamed VI made a call for the government to recruit 10,000 Moroccans into compulsory military service and this is said to have increased to about 15,000 in the recent years.

The Royal Army has an active force of nearly 200,000 personnel , 200 aircrafts, over 2700 armoured vehicles, over 1,000 tanks and a navy with a fleet of over 120 assets. 


Pwr index score: 0.6241


Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, hence it has one of the largest militaries in terms of personnel. 

Nigeria’s army has been locked in a battle with Boko Haram insurgency for the better half of the decade. Despite significant strides made in Buhari’s first term, there have been a few setbacks as the army is more trained on conventional warfare rather than the gorilla tactics applied by Boko Haram.

The country has more than 1800 armoured vehicles, 250 tanks and 6000 logistical vehicles at its disposal.

South Africa

Pwr index score: 0.5665


South Africa uses its highly advanced military for peacekeeping and international cooperation. The lack of conflict has not prevented the country from channeling billions towards its defense budget. Its aircraft and naval vessels are notoriously well equipped with the latest technology and though the country has less than 100,000 active frontline personnel, it has capability and manpower for much more.  


Per index score: 0.4439


Just like its North African counterpart, Algeria has managed to use its large maritime border to its advantage. The country has managed to develop a massive military capability on land, air and sea.

Algeria’s active frontline personnel is more than 130,000 troops and it has nearly 2000 armored fighting vehicles at its disposal. 


Power index score: 0.2216


The North African power ranks an impressive 13th position in global rankings. The Egyptian armed forces consist of the Egyptian army, navy, air force and air defense command.

Nearly 5,000 personnel serve on its active frontline force surpassing all of its African counterparts. Egypt has about 10,000 armoured fighting vehicles, 60,000 logistical vehicles, more than 1000 aircrafts and a large oil reserve. Its naval strength includes traditional carriers as well as nuclear powered submarines.

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