The western world’s sanctions on Russia are causing some side effects on the African defense market. Before the war in Ukraine, Russia supplied 44% of Africa’s defense imports, according to SIPRI. They offer cheaper prices than western supplies with less barriers to entry making them the ideal choice for developing nations.
A fine example is Nigeria, the most populated country in the African continent, which may have to flip from Russian arms to those made by the Chinese.
Over the past weeks, the U.S and its allies have barraged Russia and neighboring Belarus with sanctions both targeting the global economy and individual sectors. This includes major sanctions on at least 5 Russian defense firms, mainly those who’s weapons are being used to invade Ukraine.
The Nigerian military is deciding whether or not Russia is a viable option to continue to buy from in the future. They continue to face conflicts from separatist groups on both sides of the political spectrum and that may lead them to a cheap, uncomplicated nation to buy arms from, China.
This would not be something new. In 2019 China provided Nigeria with armed, unmanned aerial systems in order to improve the countries counterterrorism capabilities. However, the quality of the product was extremely poor, and they are not in use very much. In 2020 Nigeria also bought drones from China including the Wing Loong II drones which mimic the American MQ-9 Reaper drones, except for their price of course.
Regardless, African countries like Nigeria may have no choice. They do not have the funds to but top technology from the U.S and France. Their main competitors are not exactly massive world threats, more so cults and violent political groups, leaving China as a reasonable, affordable, and accessible resource to be tapped into.
For the time being it is difficult to see countries like Nigeria choose elsewhere. The complications of acquiring Russia material, the price of North American products, and the fact that China has invested over 300 billion in over 90% of African nations offering to build dams, waterways, bridges and other infrastructure in return for ‘favors’ make the Asian giant a very appealing choice.