In spite of the lackluster economic performance, North Africa, including the region of Sahel, saw an increase in military expenditure in 2016 – a 2.2% rise compared to the previous year, reaching to more than $21 billion. The growth reflects the focus of the region’s governments on security and fight against terrorism as well as border protection at a time of spending reductions and austerity measures. Thus, despite the tensions on the socio-economic front, the defense and security forces continue to enjoy substantial budgets.
The biggest year-to-year increase in military spending came from Mali, Chad and Mauritania, although the three countries account for less than 8% of the region’s military spending. As local conflicts escalate and Islamist insurgency is on the rise, Mali saw its military expenditure increase by 18.5% to $366 million. Chad also increased its budget by about the same (17.6%) to $260 million, and Mauritania by 8% to $144 million.
To catch up with the Sahel countries, Algeria has also increased its military spending by 2.3% to $10.654 billion, maintaining its share of regional spending at 50.1%. In contrast, Egypt, a country that used to be a regional leader in terms of military spending in the 1980s and the mid-1990s, saw its 2016 military spending go down by 2.2% to reach at $5.3 billion, corresponding to 25.2% of a total regional spending.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that total global military expenditures rose to $1686 billion in 2016, an increase of 0.4 per cent in real terms from 2015. Military spending in North America saw its first annual increase since 2010, while spending in Western Europe grew for the second consecutive year. Except for North Africa, spending also continued to grow in Asia and Oceania, Central and Eastern Europe but fell in Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, South America and sub-Saharan Africa.