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15 Most Powerful Armed Forces in Africa

Every year, the Global Firepower (GFP) provides an accurate ranking of the military strength of all regions globally, Africa inclusive. GFP provides their list following each country’s Power Index score, which they get from about 50 factors.

The factors for ranking of these African military armed forces powers include the country’s natural resources, army strength, fighting capacity, geography, financial resources, workforce, and more. 

Recall that the army is the military force that fights for the land. The armed forces used in this matrix consist of Army, Navy, Air Force, and Special Forces.

These ranking below are the 15 most powerful military armed forces in Africa, categorized in descending order, with information about what makes them rank higher.

1. Egyptian Army

Egypt ranks first as the African country with the most powerful army and 13th in the worldwide military power.

Qualities that made Egypt rank 1st in the most powerful army in Africa

Judging from Egypt’s conservative fighting capacity, it made a power index score of 0.2216 in 2021. Out of the 104,898,490 population of Egypt, more than 920,000 of them are in the military. 

They have about 450,000 active personnel and nearly 470,000 reserve personnel.

Egypt has more armed forces than other African countries, with the Egyptian Army, Egyptian Air Defense, and Egyptian Navy workforce.

Military equipment

The military also has 11,700 armored fighting vehicles, 81 attack helicopters, 215 fighter aircraft, 88 attack aircraft, 2,189 towed artillery, 4,295 combat tanks, 1,084 rocket projectors, eight submarines, 1,139 self-propelled artillery, among others.

The government of Egypt takes its defense seriously and assigns annually about 11.2 billion US dollars to this course. Also, youths from 18-34 of the country must serve in the military for 1 to 3 years.

The Egyptian army has played significant roles in settling the unrest in the country, especially regarding the al-Sisi and Morsi power tousle.

2. The Algerian People’s National Army

Algeria’s army is considered the second most powerful in African after Egypt, and it ranks 27th most powerful military in the world.

Attributes that set Algeria Army Apart among other African armies

The estimated power index score of Algeria according to GFP in 2021 is 0.4439. In the whole of Africa, Algeria seems to allocate more resources to the defense with an estimate of 13 billion dollars.

The Algerian People’s National Army, which includes the Algerian Air Defense Force, Algerian Land Force, Navy, and the Algerian Air Force, receives its fund from its oil resources.

The country has more extensive marine borders and troops of 127,000 frontline personnel.

They also have patrol vessels, including 7,361 armored fighting vehicles, 880 combat tanks, 103 fighter aircraft, 22 attack aircraft, 45 attack helicopters, 316 rocket projectors, 320 self-propelled artilleries, and others for special force operations.

If not for the interventions of the Algerian People’s National Army, the Islamic forces in the country could have caused greater mayhem.

3. South African Army

The third most powerful army in Africa 2021 is the South African Army which also ranks 32nd in the world. 

The South African Army is a division of the South African National Defense Force overseeing land warfare.

How is South African Army better than their other African counterparts?

Among the distinguishing features of the South African Army is that they have an active size of 40,121 and a reserve size of 12,300. The country’s annual defense budget is 4.6 billion US dollars.

Generally, the military of South Africa has a power index score of 0.5665 and an annual budget of 4.96 billion US dollars.

They also have 30 naval personnel, 213 aircraft, and 191 tanks. 17,000 out of the 62,082 active military strength of the country are on reserve. The country produces most of its technologies.

The South African Army has always been in the frontline of collaborating with international players, especially in mediation.

4. Nigerian Army

With a power index score of 0.6241, Nigeria’s military force ranks the 4th most powerful in Africa. The 35th most powerful country in the world is Nigeria.

What qualities make the Nigerian Army unique to rank among the best?

The Nigeria military receives one of the best training ever receiving funding (an annual estimate of 2.155 billion USD), mainly from the oil sector.

Out of the over 2 million population of Nigeria, about 120,000 personnel are in the military. The Nigeria Army has special patrol and surveillance equipment which includes 6,000 logistic vehicles, 1,800 armored vehicles, and 360 tanks.

The Nigeria Army, which forms part of the country’s military, has been helping curb the insurgency in the country.

5. Royal Moroccan Army

Royal Moroccan Army is a subsidiary of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces with a power index score of 0.8739. 

It is the 5th most powerful army in Africa and the 53rd in the world.

Elements that make the Royal Moroccan Army one of the best in Africa

In the whole of Africa, Royal Moroccan Army has the most orderly troop. About 500 of its citizens are in the military out of a population of approximately 35,651,654 people.

The country makes a budget of 3.4 billion US dollars on defense, having 2,720 armored vehicles, 1,348 tanks, and 323 aircraft. These facilities help the present-day Royal Moroccan Army work tirelessly to stop terrorism in the country.

6. Angolan Army

The sixth most powerful army in Africa is the Angolan Army. The Angolan Armed Forces comprise the air force, navy, and army, and they jointly made a power index score of 1.0799 in 2021. They ranked the 65th most powerful military in Africa.

Distinguishing features of the Angolan Army

Angola has 32,522,339 million residents, out of which 120,000 are in the armed forces. The country has 300 tanks, 585 armored vehicles, 57 naval crafts, and 270 aircraft.

The return from the oil reserves of the country supplies funds for military activities. The Angolan Army works tirelessly to probe corruption and insecurities in the country.

7. Ethiopian Ground Forces

Ethiopian Ground Forces are under the Ethiopian National Defense Force ranking the 2021 7th most powerful army in Africa. It has a power index score of 1.0901.

Why did Ethiopia make it to the top list of the most powerful army in Africa in 2021?

The armed force of Ethiopia is one of the reasons the country made it to the top list of the most powerful armies. 

Ethiopia ranks the 66th most powerful military globally in 2021 and the strongest army in East Africa.

Ethiopian National Defense Force, including the ground force and air force, has 162,000 armed personnel provided with 560 tanks and 81 aircraft.

Since the country does not have a naval force, they pay so much attention to their air and land force, estimating an annual budget of 340 million US dollars.

The Ethiopian Ground Forces have about 138 personnel who liaise with the government to settle terrorism and internal conflicts.

8. Libyan Army

Libyan Army, in 2021, is the 8th most powerful army in Africa and 70th most powerful military worldwide. From the GFPs ranking, Libyan armed forces made a power index score of 1.2736.

Reasons why the Libyan Army made it top the list of the most powerful armies in Africa

Libya, as a country, has an abundance of natural resources, with oil providing the primary revenue for its defense.

The Libyan armed forces, especially the army and navy, are some of the strongest in the country. They have 6,500 logistical vehicles, 2,500 armored fighting vehicles, 600 toed artillery, and 500 tanks.

Libyan army and the navy use these resources as well 76,000 personnel and an annual budget of about 3 billion USD to settle the problems in the country.

9. Tunisian Army

The Tunisian Air force comprises the army, air force, and navy. Together, they ranked 9th most powerful military in Africa and 73rd most potent in the world.

Features that made the Tunisian Army rank among the most powerful

Tunisian Army, a part of the Tunisia Air Force, has a power index score of 1.4134 and an armed forces population of 48,000 out of the over 11 million residents of the country.

The Tunisian Army utilizes 350 tanks and a budget of 550 million USD, among other resources, to maintain peace and stability.

10. Sudanese Armed Forces

Sudanese Armed Forces offers Sudanese Land Forces service and ranks the 10th most powerful African army and the 77th powerful army globally.

What qualifies Sudan as one of the most powerful armies in Africa?

The GFP review of 2021 gave Sudan a rating of 1.5159 in the power index. 

However, the Sudanese Armed Forces have 210,000 troops protecting the 45,561,556 million populations in Sudan.

The Sudanese Armed Forces use 18 naval assets, 191 aircraft, 403 armored fighting vehicles, and 410 combat tanks from China and Russia to secure the country against troubles.

11. Congolese Army

The Congolese army is the ground force under the armed forces of the Republic of the Congo and ranks as the 11th strongest army in Africa. 

Under the GFP review, Congo’s military ranks 81st the strongest military in the world.

Why did the Congolese army rank among the best in Africa?

With a power index score of 1.5507, the Congolese army has 25 reconnaissance vehicles, 100 artilleries, infantry weapons, and armored fighting vehicles.

The country has over 10,000 active personnel with a military age of 20 years. The army works tirelessly in tackling insurgency in the country, among other functions.

12. Kenya Army

Under the Kenya Defense Forces, the Kenya army is ranked as the 12th most powerful military in Africa in 2021. The military strength of Kenya is 83rd in the world.

Features that made the Kenyan army stand out 

The Kenya Army has hundreds of small arms, 50 air cavalry battalions, utility vehicles, recovery tanks, armored cars, and lots more. The government allocates over a million US dollars annually for the military.

The military of Kenya made a power index score of 1.7241 in 2021, according to GFP. 

With the resources, support, and personnel that the Kenya army has, they keep combating the country’s challenges.

13. Zambian Army

The Zambian army is a service branch of the Zambian Defense Force. They rank as the 13th most powerful armies in Africa and the 87th in the world.

Outstanding qualities that rank the Zambian army among the best in Africa

Zambian Defense Force, of which the Zambian military is a branch, has a power index score of 2.0632. They have armed forces personnel of over 22,000, small arms, attack helicopters, vehicles, and towed artillery.

Zambia spends 1.55 percent of its GDP on the military. 

The military, however, serves under the ministry of defense, safeguarding the interests of the country.

14. Uganda People’s Defence Force

With a power index score of 2.1208 by the GFP, Uganda People’s Defense Force, formerly known as the National Resistance Army, is the 14th strongest army in Africa. They are also the 89th best military on the globe.

What made Uganda’s People’s Defense Force rank among the best in Africa?

The Uganda People’s Defense Force, especially the land forces, works tirelessly to control the political unrest in Uganda.

Equipped with thousands of army equipment like 162 armored personnel carriers, 50 light tanks, 299 main battle tanks, armored cars, over 50,000 active personnel, among others, the military of Uganda promotes harmony in the country.

15. Chad National Army

Chad National Army, or Armée national tchadienne (ANT), is the 15th most powerful army in Africa. They are also the 90th most powerful army worldwide, with a power index score of 2.1523.

Qualities that set Chad National Army apart as one of the best in Africa

Chad National Army has ground forces, gendarmerie, and air force service branches. The Chad National Army has 35,000 troops, all from the ages of 18 and above.

They have 60 tanks, 385 armored vehicles, ten self-propelled guns, towed artillery and receive annually about 40 percent of the country’s budget.

The armed forces have professional personnel that helps significantly in stabilizing the country, making it free from invasion.

Which country in Africa has the strongest army?

Egypt has the strongest army in Africa. With a power index of 0.2216 and a population of 104,898,490 in 2021, 920,000 of Egypt’s people are in the military.


Africa has diverse natural resources, with dynamic armed forces that protect the interest of their countries.

The list of the most powerful armies here is an annual record for 2021 which means, the list changes every year.

The countries with the top record as the most powerful armies utilize their trained personnel, financial resources, and facilities to protect their lands.

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