Following its invasion of Ukraine, countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) imposed comprehensive sanctions on Russia in a bid to cripple its ability to participate meaningfully in the global economy. These included exclusion from the Bank for International Settlements, including SWIFT which facilitates cross-border money transfers messaging.
The wide-ranging sanctions could have serious implications for Africa. Importantly, they could affect the continent’s ability to procure and maintain military hardware from Russia.
Almost half of Africa’s imports of military equipment (49%) come from Russia. These include major arms (battle tanks, warships, fighter aircraft and combat helicopters) and small arms (pistols and assault rifles such as the new Kalashnikov AK-200 series rifle).
By comparison, China accounts for 13% of the continent’s arms imports.
The biggest buyers of armaments from Russia – and most long-standing importers – are Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco and Uganda.
Egypt and Algeria are in the top ten list of major importers in the world. Egypt accounts for 5,8% of arms imports globally, and Algeria for 4,3%. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute yearbook 2021, the global arms trade in 2019 alone was estimated at US$118bn.