African countries produce weapons
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Insight & Analysis - April 23, 2022

5 African Countries that Produce their Weapons

The African continent is home to some countries that produce their weapons. These nations are tapping into a  $25 billion industry. 

By 2017,  the rate at which countries in Africa import arms declined by 34%. According to the 2021 report from Trends in International Arms Transfer, the decline was due to lower purchases by Algeria and Morocco, the region’s two major arms importers. 

This is a pointer to the potential of the continent to fill a large portion of its weapons needs. Let’s have a look at some African countries that produce their weapons.

South Africa

South Africa’s armaments industry is seen as one of the most developed in the non-Western world. The country’s armaments industry is similar to IBSA partners, India and Brazil.

Some of the domestically-built weaponry include transport and attack helicopters, armoured personnel carriers, military trucks, internal security vehicles, assault rifles and handguns. The industry has progressed in a few specialist sectors, such as light armoured vehicles and anti-tank missiles.

Due to technological advancement, the country’s weapons and other military equipment are in great demand worldwide. 

As of 2016 and 2017, South Africa provided weaponry to the United States, China, Sweden, Zambia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Weapons such as heavy artillery and assault rifles, ammunition, armoured vehicles, surveillance, and military technology were part of the arms exported.


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Ethiopia began manufacturing arms in the 1800s under Emperor Tewondros. The nation has one of the continent’s strongest militaries.

With a defence budget of over $400 million, Ethiopia produces small weapons, rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and its version of the PKM machine gun. Also, tanks and armoured vehicles are refurbished in the nation.


Since the 1820s, Egypt has been creating its weapons. This ranges from warships, artillery, rifles, explosives, and ammunition. After a brief fall in weapon manufacture, Egypt’s armaments output continued to climb following the Second World War (WWII).

Due to this, the government founded the ammunition and small weapons industries and aircraft manufacturing in the country. With this move, Egypt is gradually becoming one of the continent’s leading armament manufacturers.

Egypt has manufactured $400 million in armaments in over 30 factories by 1981. It didn’t take long for the country to export to the Middle East and Africa.


Ghana has been creating weaponry ranging from pistols, shotguns, and single-barrel firearms for years. The gun-manufacturing workshops can be found in each of Ghana’s ten regions.

Kumasi’s Suame-Magazine neighbourhood, in the Ashanti region, is one of Ghana’s most established gun-manufacturing centres.


Kenya has its fair share of arms factories. In 1997, a part of the Ministry of State for Defense founded the Kenya Ordnance Factories Corporation (KOFC) to produce small guns. 

With Belgian firm FN Herstal in 1996, Kenya was able to produce small guns and ammunition. The bullet factory has a daily production of 20,000 to 60,000 bullets, whereas local demand is around two million per year.

The factory makes three different bullets: 9mm ammunition for the FN35 Browning handgun and Sterling, Uzi, or H&K MP5 submachine guns used by the military; 7.62x51mm ammo for the FN FAL and G3, the primary rifles used by the armed forces; and 5.56mm ammunition for the Kenya police. The plant cannot produce ammo for the AK-47, the region’s most widely used assault weapon.

Despite having ratified the UN Arms Trade Treaty, Kenya refuses to open its factories for independent inspection.


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