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Report: DRC recorded largest military spending increase in 2023

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 26 May 2024 at 03:47

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) recorded the largest percentage increase in military spending in the world last year amid increased armed conflicts in the eastern part of the country, a new report shows.

The DRC’s military spending increased by 105 per cent to hit $794 million, according to the Trends in World Military Expenditure 2023 report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The report highlights that military spending in DRC last year coincided with growing tensions with Rwanda, a surge in clashes with non-state armed groups, and a move by the government to strengthen the DRC’s armed forces after it demanded the early withdrawal of a large-scale United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country.

The Congolese army has been fighting the M23 rebel group in North Kivu. Members of the militia accuse the government of marginalization and persecution. On the other hand, the Congolese government has been accused of siding with the FDLR group, remnants of the Interahamwe responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Additionally, the DRC accuses Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels, a claim the Rwandan government has repeatedly denied. This has caused tension between the two countries.

Meanwhile, South Sudan was ranked second after recording a 78 per cent increase to reach more than $1 billion in its military budget last year. This followed a 108 per cent increase in 2022. SIPRI attributed the surge in military spending to “internal violence and spillover from the Sudanese civil war”.

Ethnic and political differences are blamed for the conflict and violence in South Sudan despite a peace agreement signed by President Salva Kiir and an opposition group led by Riek Machar in 2018.

Amid numerous ongoing security challenges, Nigeria reported a 20 per cent increase in military spending last year. Overall, military spending in Sub-Saharan countries rose by 8.9 per cent compared to 2022.

On the global stage, total military expenditure reached $2443 billion in 2023, an increase of 6.8 per cent compared to 2022.

"This was the steepest year-on-year increase since 2009," said SIPRI.

The 10 largest spenders in 2023—led by the United States, China and Russia—all increased their military spending, according to the new report.

“The unprecedented rise in military spending is a direct response to the global deterioration in peace and security,” said Nan Tian, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme. “States are prioritizing military strength but they risk an action–reaction spiral in the increasingly volatile geopolitical and security landscape.”

India was the fourth largest military spender globally in 2023 after it recorded a 4.2 per cent growth in its budget to reach $83.6 billion. Saudi Arabia was ranked fifth.

Russia-Ukraine war

Amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, the former’s military spending grew by 24 per cent in 2023 to an estimated $109 billion, equivalent to 5.9 per cent of Russia’s GDP.

Ukraine was ranked the eighth largest military spender in 2023, after increasing its spending by 51 per cent to $64.8 billion, which is equivalent to 37 per cent of its GDP.

The DRC’s military spending increased by 105 per cent to hit $794 million, according to the Trends in World Military Expenditure 2023 report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

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