10 of the Most Powerful Military in Africa 2020: See Ethiopia's Rank

south african military helicopter drop

10 of the Most Powerful Militaries in Africa Today (2018)

Global Fire Power is an organization that is widely known for having a fairly accurate understanding of the militaries in the world. It uses its own calculation system based on the following parameters:


Total populations, available manpower, manpower fit-for-service, manpower reaching military age annually, active military manpower, and active reserve military manpower.

Air power:

Total aircraft strength, fighters and interceptors, attack aircraft, transports, trainers, total helicopters, attack helicopters, and serviceable airports.

Army Strength:

Combat tanks, armored fighting vehicles, self-propelled artillery, towed artillery, and rocket projectors.

Naval Power:

Total naval strength aircraft carriers, frigates, destroyers, corvettes, submarines, patrol craft, and mine warfare.

Financial Resources:

Annual defense budgets, external debt, reserves of foreign exchange and gold, and purchasing power parity.

Logistical Resources:

Labor force strength, merchant marine strength, major ports and terminals, roadway coverage, and railway coverage.

Natural Resources:

Oil production, oil consumption and proven oil reserves.


Square land areas, coastline, shared borders, and waterway coverage.

Ethiopia has always been considered powerful militarily; from ancient times to the present.

The country has also had its fair share of wars. The country's most widely revered victory came during the First Ethio-Italo war, in which Ethiopia became the first African country to defeat a modern European army.

When it comes to her sovereignty, Ethiopia and her multitude of ethnicities and tribes put all their differences aside and unite to fend off any invaders encroaching on her territories.

During recent years, Ethiopia was ranked between the second and third as the most powerful military in Africa.

Recently, though Ethiopia has dropped to the 6th rank according to Global Fire Power.

The following guide will help you understand who the ten most powerful militaries in Africa are and why.

10. Democratic Republic of the Congo 75/136

drc soldiers marching

Democratic Republic of the Congo is ranked 75 out of the 136 countries evaluated.

The FARDC or the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo began its resurgence after the peace agreement brought relative quite to the country.

The Second Congo War saw mass devastation in loss of lives, property, and much more.

The FARDC's greatest asset is its land forces, which make up for their relatively low air and naval units. Some of their equipment is as follows: 200 battle tanks, 8 attack helicopters, 210 armored fighting vehicles, etc.

The Congo also spends $162,000,000 on its defense budget.

9. Libya 74/136

libyan soldiers with truck mounted rocket launchers

Libya is ranked 74 out of the 136 countries that were surveyed.

Despite having a relatively small number of active troops, the Libyan military makes up for this by having a large amount of equipment.

Regardless, of the current troubles faced by the country, it still has 18 fighter aircraft, 17 attack aircraft, 8 attack helicopters, 340 combat tanks, 699 armored fighting vehicles, and 100 rocket projectors.

The Libyans also spend a massive $3,000,000,000 on their defense budget.

8. Sudan 70/136

sudan military parade

image credit: en.people.cn

The Sudan is ranked 70 out of the 136 countries surveyed.

The Sudanese Armed Forces are on this list because they are a well organized and experienced military force. The military has several units: land, naval, and air.

The Popular Defense Force is the military wing of the National Islamic Front and it receives most of its military equipment from the Chinese and the Russians.

Some of their equipment includes 46 fighter aircraft, 81 attack aircraft, 41 attack helicopters, 360 combat tanks, 415 armored fighting vehicles, and 12 naval patrol craft.

The Sudan spends $2,470,000,000 on defense.

7. Morocco 55/136

moroccon soldiers at attention

image credit: moroccoworldnews.com

Morocco is ranked 55 out of the 136 countries that were analyzed.

The Royal Moroccan Armed Forces are heavily reliant on foreign military supplies. They are also involved in various peacekeeping missions in dangerous areas.

The military equipment it uses is as follows: 56 fighter aircraft, 56 attack aircraft, 1,276 combat tanks, 2,348 armored fighting vehicles, 72 rocket projectors, 6 naval frigates, 22 naval patrol crafts, etc.

Morocco spends an astounding $3,400,000,000 on its defense budget.

6. Ethiopia 51/136

ethiopian tank and soldiers

image credit: tigraionline.com/allnetafrica.com

Ethiopia is ranked 51 out of the 136 countries that have surveyed.

The Global Fire Power does not penalize a country for being landlocked and not possessing a naval force. Ethiopia has taken this disadvantage and focused its energy on maximizing its potential as a land and air force to be reckoned with.

Along with its impressive military equipment, it also has one of the largest populations on the continent, supplying it with a massive force when needed.

Although, mandatory military training is no longer a requirement in Ethiopia, they have the authority to call the people to arms when needed.

Unfortunately, Ethiopia has dropped in its rankings from previous years. It used to be a constant at second and third places but has now dropped to its current sixth.

It could be speculated that the country is now spending more money on its development schemes as opposed to increasing its military might.

Some of the equipment to be used by this massive force is as follows: 24 fighter aircraft, 24 attack aircraft, 8 attack helicopters, 800 combat tanks, 800 armored fighting vehicles, 183 rocket projectors, 85 self propelled artillery, 700 towed artillery, etc.

The EDF or Ethiopian Defense Forces budget is $340,000,000.

5. Angola 48/136

angolan soldier next to bm

image credit: historynet.com

Angola is ranked 48 out of the 136 countries that were surveyed.

The Angolan Armed forces have been fortunate enough to be part of a large development plan etched out by the current political forces in power.

The country's natural resources such as oil and diamonds have started to enrich the country and enabled it to rise in the ranks of Africa's most powerful militaries.

The equipment it uses is as follows: 59 fighter aircraft, 56 attack aircraft, 15 attack helicopters, 244 combat tanks, 115 rocket projectors, 538 armored fighting vehicles, 332 towed artillery, 38 naval patrol craft, etc.

The astounding budget for defense by Angola is $4,150,000,000

4. Nigeria 43/136

nigerian military on parade ground

image credit: pulse.ng

Nigeria is ranked 43 out of the 136 countries analyzed.

The country's navy, army and air force is supplied by a huge population, while its equipment is heavily supplied by its oil resources.

In war, resource is the key and Nigeria is not lacking.

Some of the equipment they utilize is as follows: 9 fighter aircraft, 21 attack aircraft, 11 attack helicopters, 148 combat tanks, 30 rocket projectors, 1,420 armored fighting vehicles, 339 towed artillery, 4 naval frigates, 93 naval patrol crafts, etc.

The huge budget set aside for the defense of Nigeria is 2,330,000,000.

3. South Africa 33/136

south african military helicopter drop

image credit: businesstech.co.za/answersafrica.com

South Africa is ranked 33 out of the 136 countries surveyed.

This country's military can be compared with other developed European nations. Although their military front line personnel are less than 100,000 their equipment is world class of the latest technology.

South Africa is also the only African country that attempted to gain nuclear technology. Trained by the Israeli and the British, South African soldiers are definitely to be feared.

Some of their equipment encompasses the following: 17 fighter aircraft, 17 attack aircraft, 12 attack helicopters, 195 combat tanks, 50 rocket projectors, 2,265 fighting armored vehicles, 43 self-propelled artillery, 97 towed artillery, 4 naval frigates, 3 submarines, 31 naval patrol crafts, etc.

The Republic of South Africa allocates an incredible $4,610,000,000 on its defense spending.

2. Algeria 23/136

algerian military on display

image credit: defense.pk

Algeria is ranked 23 out of the 136 countries surveyed.

Algeria is arguably Africa's top spender on defense. The country's frontline personnel number over 127,000 troops and it is made up of a modern army funded largely by its oil resources.

Algeria has an abundance of equipment as the following numbers can easily illustrate why the country is a military powerhouse: 97 fighter aircraft, 107 attack aircraft, 46 attack helicopters, 2,405 combat tanks, 176 rocket projectors, 6,754 fighting armored vehicles, 220 self-propelled artillery, 270 towed artillery, 8 naval frigates, 8 submarines, 43 naval patrol crafts, etc.

The generous budget set aside for the defense of Algeria is $10,570,000,000.

1. Egypt 12/136

egyptian military and tanks

image credit: egypttoday.com/en.el-balad.com.com

Egypt is ranked 12th out of the 136 countries surveyed.

This country has been the military powerhouse of Africa for a long time and continues to be so. It was one of America's main military aid recipients for countless years.

Many speculated that the military would weaken due to the political instability, but it seems to have gotten even more powerful. Its huge 500,000 active frontline personnel are ahead of all its African counterparts.

Egypt is also the only country in Africa to have not one but two aircraft carriers.

The following are some of its equipment: 309 fighter aircraft, 409 fighter aircraft, 10 attack helicopters, 4,946 combat tanks, 1,216 rocket projectors, 15,695 armored fighting vehicles, 1,139 self-propelled artillery, 2,189 towed artillery, 2 aircraft carriers, 9 naval frigates, 6 submarines, 53 naval patrol craft, etc.

The Egyptian government allocates $4,400,000,000 for its defense spending.