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Drop in Military Spending in Africa


FILE - Government soldiers follow orders to raise their guns during a military parade in Juba, South Sudan, April 14, 2016.

Military spending in Africa has slowed down after more than a decade of growth. The main reason, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, is a drop in oil prices.

Nan Tian is an analyst at SIPRI's Arms and Military Expenditure Program. He notes that the sharp drop in oil prices has affected many African countries – South Sudan and Angola, in particular.

The SIPRI report found military spending in Africa in 2016 went down 1.3 percent from the previous year. Overall, military spending on the continent totaled about $37.9 billion.

Despite the drop, Africa's military spending is still 48 percent higher than it was a decade ago.

Some of Africa's biggest military spenders have included Angola and Algeria. Angola has been trying to modernize its air force and navy, while Algeria has tried to maintain stability amid the collapse of Libya.

Both of those countries have slowed spending recently, Tian noted.

However, not all countries saw a drop in military spending. According to SIPRI's report, Botswana's military spending grew by 40 percent, or about $152 million dollars. Botswana, with its long record of peace and good governance, is modernizing its military.

Nigeria, Kenya and Mali also increased spending due to extremist threats in their region.

Is military spending in Africa at the right level?

Perhaps the most important question, Tian says, is whether military spending in Africa is at the right level.

Ten African countries spend more than 3 percent of their gross domestic product, or GDP, on their militaries. In 2016, the Republic of Congo spent around 7 percent of its GDP on its military; Algeria spent around 6.7 percent of GDP.

In comparison, global military spending is 2.2 percent of GDP.

Tian explains that Africa is the poorest continent. He asks, "Are they spending enough or are they spending too much on military based on their current income levels? Should they rather be prioritizing other aspects of spending – maybe health care, maybe education, maybe infrastructure?"

I'm John Russell.

Salem Solomon reported this story for VOA News. John Russell adapted the story for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

modernize – v. to make (something) modern and more suited to present styles or needs

maintain – v. to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing

income – n. money that is earned from work, investments, business, etc.

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