bird TenX: 10 African countries with the largest armies

by Conrad Onyango, bird story agency…

In a recent global power ranking of 145 nations, it is evident that the size of a nation’s economy or population does not necessarily correlate with the size of its military or defense budget.

Smaller economies can have significant numbers of active soldiers or substantial defense budgets, as different countries prioritize different aspects of bolstering their peacekeeping efforts.

According to the Global Fire Power Index 2024, which considers over 60 individual measurement factors including the quantity of military units, financial standing, logistical capabilities, and geography to determine countries’ scores, smaller, technologically advanced nations can effectively compete with larger, less developed nations.

bird has compiled a list of African countries with the largest armies in 2024, focusing specifically on the current number of active soldiers.

**1. Egypt**

This North African country has the largest standing army in Africa, with 440,000 active soldiers, ranking it 10th globally. The nation also has 300,000 paramilitaries and 480,000 personnel in the reserve, bringing the total personnel numbers to 1.2 million. Egypt’s annual defence budget stands at US$9.4 billion. Overall, the country is ranked as the 15th global military power out of 145 countries.

**2. Algeria**

Ranked as the second biggest military power in Africa, Algeria has 325,000 active military personnel, 135,000 reserve soldiers, and 150,000 paramilitary personnel, bringing the total military personnel to 610,000. The country has an annual defense budget of US$21.6 billion.

**3. Nigeria**

The country has a total of 280,000 military personnel, with 230,000 being active duty and 50,000 in the paramilitary. There are no reserve personnel in the country. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and is ranked sixth globally in terms of military manpower, with an annual influx of 4.15 million reaching military age. Nigeria is ranked 39th globally and has an annual defense budget of US$4 billion.

**4. Morocco**

With a total of 395,800 military personnel, this country has 195,800 active soldiers, 150,000 in the reserve, and 50,000 in the paramilitary. Morocco’s global military ranking is 61st, with an annual budget of US$12 billion.

**5 South Sudan**

This country with a total of 185,000 active soldiers and no reserve or paramilitary does not feature in Africa’s top 10 military powers but has a slot of top countries with the largest armies. South Sudan is ranked 24th in Africa and 119th globally, with a defense budget of US$302 million.

**6. Democratic Republic of Congo**

The country has a total military personnel of 207,580 with 166,580 being active, 31,000 in reserves, and 10,000 in paramilitary. DR Congo is ranked 73rd globally with a defense budget of US$300 million. Annually, 2.46 million individuals become eligible for military service, making DR Congo one of the top 10 countries substantial military manpower.

**7. Ethiopia**

The country has a total of 162,000 active military personnel and does not have reserve units or paramilitaries. Ethiopia ranks 9th globally in terms of the number of people reaching military age, with 2.67 million individuals. Ethiopia is ranked 49th globally in terms of its annual defense budget, which stands at US$888 million.

**8. Angola**

The country has 117,000 military personnel, with 107,000 being active and the remaining 10,000 in the paramilitary. The country has no reserve personnel. Angola is ranked 55th globally in military strength.

**9. Sudan**

The country’s total military personnel count is 194,500 with 92,000 being active, 85,000 in the reserve, and 17,500 in the paramilitary. Sudan, which is currently in the midst of a devastating civil war, also has large numbers of young men reaching military age annually, at 1.27 million, ranking 17th globally. Sudan is currently ranked 76th globally in military strength and its annual defense budget is US$300 million.

**10. Tunisia**

The total military personnel for this country stands at 101,800, with 89,800 considered active and 12,000 in the paramilitary. The country does not have reserve personnel. Tunisia’s military strength is ranked 74th globally, with a US$1.26 billion annual military budget.


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