AFRICA – Instability in the Sahel causes a sharp rise in military spending

Military spending in Africa is on the rise. According to the latest report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in 2020, spending on weapons in Africa exceeded 43,000 million dollars, 5.1% more than in 2019 and 11% more than in 2011.

Defense spending represented an average of 8.2% of public spending across Africa in 2020. The share is considerably higher in conflict-affected countries such as Mali (18%) and Burkina Faso (12 %).

And this is where the fastest increases in defense spending have occurred. According to SIPRI, three of the five African countries where military spending has increased sharply over the past decade – Mali with an increase of 339%, Niger (288%) and Burkina Faso (238%) – are fighting terrorist networks. in the Sahel, an extremely poor region that stretches from Senegal to Sudan and Eritrea.

Military spending is undermining the ability of local policy makers to make public investments in infrastructure vital for economic development and improving the living conditions of their populations. This in turn generates discontent and frustration, especially among young people, some of whom end up joining the guerrilla groups that operate in the region.

The fragility of the institutions of the Sahel countries is also revealed by military coups like the one in Mali in August 2020.

To force the coup plotters to restore civil power, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has decided, at its extraordinary summit held on January 9 in Accra, the capital of Ghana, to block land and air borders between its own countries and Mali, a landlocked country. This is after the coup leaders had renounced their promise to hold elections in February 2022. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 11/1/2022)