LAGOS, Nigeria — Despite escalating conflicts and insurgent activities in many sub-Saharan African nations, and the associated demand for arms sales these conflicts drive, the last 6 months has seen a significant drops in availability of weapons for sale across the continent.
The accessibility of both illegal and legal arms dropped to 18% of the previous year’s sales, according the European based non-government organisation (NGO), Global Arms Surveillance Group.
Global Arms Surveillance have been unable to account for this significant reduction in arms, because the demand in Africa grows daily and there are plenty of arms manufacturers across the planet to meet that demand.
This trend is in direct conflict to the situation in sub-Saharan Africa 12 months ago, when arms trade had increased 23% from the previous year. Africa has long been the fastest growing region for illegal arms sales.
Driving arms purchases included Nigeria’s war against the Niger Delta insurgent group, MEND, and their fight against the Islamic rebel group Boko Haram.
Civil wars and insurgent activities in South Sudan, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia also previous fueled demand for illegal weapon sales, particular in small arms, explosives and rockets.
Kenya, Uganda and Ghana’s involvement in African Union and United Nations backed military operations also contributed to the rise in arms imports, predominately in the legal arms market.
Private companies have also been impacted by the reduction in arms availability. Security groups protecting oil companies operating in Nigeria are finding they are now ill-equipped to protect oil drilling sites from insurgent attacks. Despite efforts to import armaments from the United States, Russia and China, orders are not getting through.
Meanwhile, peace activist groups in Europe and North America state that regardless of the reasons why, reduced arms can only benefit the African continent.
Global Arms Surveillance estimates it costs Africa $US18 billion each year in lost business, hospital expenses, refugees and trauma caused by armed conflicts. A reduction in arms trade, therefore, would reduce the ability for wars to continue, or even commence, and significantly reduce deaths and injuries resulting from war.
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