At a time when the African continent as a whole reduced its imports of arms and ammunitions from foreign countries, China has emerged as a major player – increasing its weapons exports to the continent by 55% between 2013 and 2017 as compared to the previous five years.
A report published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has highlighted that while Africa’s arms imports fell 22% in the last five years, the share of weapons imported from China grew exponentially. Previously, Russia was one of the major sources from where African countries purchased arms but the imports fell 32% in the last five years – paving the way for the Chinese to step in and make big bucks. The United States accounts for 11% of all arms and ammunition sold here.
Security analysts believe the surge of Chinese weapons in Africa is largely due to Beijing’s push to make the country a major weapons manufacturing hub. This has helped President Xi Jinping not just modernise China’s military but create a surplus which is exported in the international market including Africa.
According to a report published in South China Morning Post, some of the high-profile weapons that China sells to African nations are:
* Battle tanks and armoured vehicles – Tanzania, Chad, Ghana, Namibia, Rwanda, Gabon, Mozambique and Burundi are some of the major buyers.
* Combat aircrafts and drones – Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe are some of the countries that have purchased combat aircrafts from China. US restrictions on selling drones has made China’s path easier.
* Missile systems: Morocco, Sudan and Yemen are some of the key buyers.
* Artillery systems: Congo, Ghana, Sudan, Cameroon, Tanzania, Niger and Rwanda are some of the countries to have purchased artillery systems made in China.Reports suggest that China’s participation in peace-keeping operations in the continent as well as setting up a millitary base in Djibouti has further helped the country gain a strong foothold in the continent.