Nigeria and Other African Countries That Produce Their Own Weapons

Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, the global trade of heavy weapons system has reached its highest level, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Its 2018 report said the world’s ten biggest arms exporting countries, including the U.S., France, and Russia, made armament transfers worth more than $25 billion. Weapons sales to Africa has, however, decreased.

The following African countries have been manufacturing some awesome weapons for their military and police, and even for export:

South Africa

Coming out of the cruel apartheid regime, South Africa’s locally manufactured weapons were at the time described as crowd-control equipment, consisting of attack helicopters, military trucks, security vehicles, assault rifles, handguns and armoured personnel cars. Considered as a country with one of the most advanced weaponry in the world today, South Africa has, in recent times, made some light armoured vehicles and anti-tank missiles. Its weaponry is demanded in several countries across the world. In 2016 and 2017, South Africa supplied arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates including heavy artillery guns and assault rifles, ammunition, armoured vehicles, surveillance and military technology, according to the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC).


With its locally-made mortars, rocket launchers, and associated ammunition that continue to appear in conflict zones within and beyond Sudan, the country boasts of being one of the largest weaponry manufacturers in Africa. In 1959, El Shajara ammunition plant was established to produce small arms ammunition. In 1993, production was expanded when the then President Omar Al Bashir opened the Military Industry Corporation (MIC). The MIC has eight main categories: ammunition, conventional weapons, armoured vehicles and main battle tanks, gear, outfits, and equipment, electronics, aviation, marine, and vehicles, reports Dabanga.


Noted as one of the main weapons manufacturers for the African Union, Ethiopia has a booming weapons manufacturing industry. The capital, Addis Ababa makes its own version of the AK-47 rifle and PKM machine gun. It assembles its own grenade launchers and ammunition. The country’s arms industry can also manufacture and refurbish tanks and armoured vehicles, reports War Is Boring.


The East African country has what describes as small arms ammunition factories. There are about three weapons manufacturers in Uganda, with the largest, Nakasongola Arms Factory being owned by the Chinese (government and private sector) interests. Uganda had since time immemorial produced some of its weaponry, especially in the late 19th century when the king of Bunyoro, Kabarega, constructed a powerful army through the use of contemporary weapons, such as percussion muskets, Remington rifles, and breech and muzzleloaders.


Nigeria has the domestic capacity to manufacture small arms which are similar to the AK-47 and the requisite ammunition, reports The country’s Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), a military division responsible for weapons production, which was set up in 1964, fell into decline around 2015, compelling the government to call for an overhaul. Aljazeera reported in 2015 that the division’s factory in the northern city of Kaduna produces rifles and civilian tools. The government then indicated that the country would increase the domestic production of weapons for its armed forces to enable it to fight terror groups, including Boko Haram. The Nigerian Army recently unveiled a wide range of locally-made weapons and equipment which includes an Infantry Patrol Vehicle (IPV), a Combat Fighting Motorcycle (CFM), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and an Automated Sniper Rifle (ASR). Local artisans do produce firearms as well, a report by ISS Today said.


In March this year, the Namibian government indicated that the number of legally held guns in the country had increased significantly, about 210 000 licensed firearms across the country. Since 1977, the country’s Windhoeker MaschinenFabrik (WMF), under the Namibian Defense Force, has manufactured some wheeled light-armoured vehicles for the country’s army and for export. In 2014, the company unveiled a relatively light and versatile armoured vehicle at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) show.

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