The Nigeria’s military expenditure in 2019 fell by 8.2 percent over the previous year despite the upsurge in Boko Haram terrorists and bandit attacks as well as spate of insecurity across the country, recent international report has revealed.

Nigeria expended about $1.9 billion for its military in 2019, which is a shortfall from 2018 at same time the total global military expenditure rose to $1, 917 billion in 2019, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Nigeria’s total expenditure on the military translated to N741,000,000.00 (seven hundred and forty-one billion naira).

The report also noted that the “data from previous global economic downturns suggests that the economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will probably disrupt future military spending”.

Federal Government had before the 2019 Elections, obtained the National Assembly’s nod to appropriate the controversial $1 billion counter-insurgency fund. This was in addition to the annual budgetary allocation to the military, thereby making Nigeria the second largest spender in Sub-Saharan Africa behind only South Africa last year.

The SIPRI  report noted that at an estimated $41.2 billion, military expenditure in Africa accounted for 2.1 per cent of the global total in 2019, adding that the marginal growth in spending last year was the first increase in African military expenditure for five years.

It however, stated that despite the annual decreases in 2015–18, increases in other years meant that total African military spending grew by 17 per cent over the decade 2010–19.

The report disclosed that military spending by countries in North Africa is estimated to have totalled $23.5 billion in 2019, representing 57 per cent of the total for Africa. This was attributed to the long-standing tensions between Algeria and Morocco, domestic insurgencies and continuing civil war in Libya, military spending in the subregion was 4.6 per cent higher than in 2018 and 67 per cent higher than in 2010.

According to SIPRI, Algeria’s military expenditure of $10.3 billion in 2019 was the highest in North Africa (and Africa as a whole) and accounted for 44 per cent of the subregional total. Algeria’s military spending has risen almost continuously since 2000, and particularly in the period 2004–16, when expenditure grew for 13 consecutive years and reached an all-time high in 2016. At 6.0 per cent  of its GDP, Algeria’s military burden was the highest in Africa in 2019.

On the contrary, military spending in sub-Saharan Africa fell by 2.2 per cent in 2019 to reach $17.7 billion, which was 15 per cent lower than in 2010. At $3.5 billion, South Africa’s military spending was the highest in sub-Saharan Africa in 2019. Its spending fell by 1.5 per cent in 2019—the fourth consecutive year of decrease.

“Nigeria was the second- largest spender in the subregion in 2019: it allocated $1.9 billion to its military, down by 8.2 per cent compared with 2018 .In recent years spending on the military by sub-Saharan African states has been volatile. Of the 19 countries that increased military spending in 2019, 8 decreased spending in 2018. Similarly, 13 of the 23 countries that lowered spending in 2019 had raised spending in 2018. This means that, overall, the trend in changes by 21 of the 42 countries in the subregion for which relevant data is available reversed in 2019,” the report explained.

Globally, the total for 2019 represents an increase of 3.6 per cent from 2018 and the largest annual growth in spending since 2010. The five largest spenders in 2019, which accounted for 62 per cent of expenditure, were the United States, China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia. This is the first time that two Asian states have featured among the top three military spenders.

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Global military spending in 2019 represented 2.2 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP), which equates to approximately $249 per person. ‘Global military expenditure was 7.2 per cent higher in 2019 than it was in 2010, showing a trend that military spending growth has accelerated in recent years,’ says Dr Nan Tian, SIPRI Researcher. ‘This is the highest level of spending since the 2008 global financial crisis and probably represents a peak in expenditure.’

United States drives global growth in military spending

Military spending by the United States grew by 5.3 per cent to a total of $732 billion in 2019 and accounted for 38 per cent of global military spending. The increase in US spending in 2019 alone was equivalent to the entirety of Germany’s military expenditure for that year. ‘The recent growth in US military spending is largely based on a perceived return to competition between the great powers,’ says Pieter D. Wezeman, Senior Researcher at SIPRI.

China and India top Asian military spending

In 2019 China and India were, respectively, the second- and third-largest military spenders in the world. China’s military expenditure reached $261 billion in 2019, a 5.1 per cent increase compared with 2018, while India’s grew by 6.8 per cent to $71.1 billion. ‘India’s tensions and rivalry with both Pakistan and China are among the major drivers for its increased military spending,’ says Siemon T. Wezeman, SIPRI Senior Researcher.
In addition to China and India, Japan ($47.6 billion) and South Korea ($43.9 billion) were the largest military spenders in Asia and Oceania. Military expenditure in the region has risen every year since at least 1989.

Germany leads military expenditure increases in Europe

Germany’s military spending rose by 10 per cent in 2019, to $49.3 billion. This was the largest increase in spending among the top 15 military spenders in 2019. ‘The growth in German military spending can partly be explained by the perception of an increased threat from Russia, shared by many North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states,’ says Diego Lopes da Silva, Researcher at SIPRI. ‘At the same time, however, military spending by France and the United Kingdom remained relatively stable.’
There were sharp increases in military expenditure among NATO member states in Central Europe: for example, Bulgaria’s increased by 127 per cent—mainly due to payments for new combat aircraft—and Romania’s rose by 17 per cent. Total military spending by all 29 NATO member states was $1035 billion in 2019.

In 2019 Russia was the fourth-largest spender in the world and increased its military expenditure by 4.5 per cent to $65.1 billion. ‘At 3.9 per cent of its GDP, Russia’s military spending burden was among the highest in Europe in 2019,’ says Alexandra Kuimova, Researcher at SIPRI.

Volatile military spending in African states in conflict
Armed conflict is one of the main drivers for the volatile nature of military spending in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, in the Sahel and Lake Chad region, where there are several ongoing armed conflicts, military spending in 2019 increased in Burkina Faso (22 per cent), Cameroon (1.4 per cent) and Mali (3.6 per cent) but fell in Chad (–5.1 per cent), Niger (–20 per cent) and Nigeria (–8.2 per cent). Among Central African countries that were involved in armed conflict, military spending in 2019 rose overall. The Central African Republic (8.7 per cent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (16 per cent) and Uganda (52 per cent) all increased military spending in 2019.
Volatile military spending in African states in conflict

• South America: Military expenditure in South America was relatively unchanged in 2019, at $52.8 billion. Brazil accounted for 51 per cent of total military expenditure in the subregion.
• Africa: The combined military expenditure of states in Africa grew by 1.5 per cent to an estimated $41.2 billion in 2019—the region’s first spending increase for five years.
• South East Asia: Military spending in South East Asia increased by 4.2 per cent in 2019 to reach $40.5 billion.

• The average military spending burden was 1.4 per cent of GDP for countries in the Americas, 1.6 per cent for Africa, 1.7 per cent for Asia and Oceania and for Europe and 4.5 per cent for the Middle East (in countries for which data is available).


SIPRI monitors developments in military expenditure worldwide and maintains the most comprehensive, consistent and extensive publicly available data source on military expenditure. The data is accessible on the Military Expenditure Database.

Data from previous global economic downturns suggests that the economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will probably disrupt future military spending. SIPRI is monitoring current developments to assess the extent of this crisis on military spending.

All percentage changes are expressed in real terms (constant 2018 prices). Military expenditure refers to all government spending on current military forces and activities, including salaries and benefits, operational expenses, arms and equipment purchases, military construction, research and development, and central administration, command and support.

SIPRI therefore discourages the use of terms such as ‘arms spending’ when referring to military expenditure, as spending on armaments is usually only a minority of the total.


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