Malawi army misses on 16 most powerful militaries in Africa list

The Malawi Defense Force is conspicuously missing  among 16 most powerful militaries in African according to a latest ranking by the Global Fire Power  or GFP an internationally recognized independent organization that provides a unique analytical display of data concerning to world’s military powers.

The GFP, measures countries’ military strength and assigns a power index number in order to compare them to other countries. Many factors are taken into consideration, and smaller countries can compete with larger ones due to points given for refinement and technological advancement.

Malawi Army soldiers

Malawi Army soldiers

Based on available information, the following countries represent the most powerful militaries in Africa as of Aug.  2014.

Numbers reflect each country’s power index, derived from a unique algorithm developed by GFP. A perfect score is a 0.0000. The lower the number, the stronger the military, and bonuses and penalties are added to country scores as needed.

1. Egypt – Power Index: 0.6122

Egypt puts itself over the top with regard to military strength due to the sheer size of its armed forces. Nearly 500,000 personnel serve on its active frontline force, far surpassing all its African counterparts. It has nearly 10,000 armored fighting vehicles, 60,000 logistical vehicles, 900 aircraft, and large oil reserves from which to draw. The military has been somewhat undermined in the wake of the Egyptian Revolution, but some argue that its increased role in government has made it stronger than ever. Whether or not this is a cause for celebration or concern will remain debated for some time to come.


2. Algeria – Power Index: 1.1698

As Algeria has a large maritime border, it has developed all its military capabilities to an impressively modern degree, including its land, sea, and air forces. Algeria’s active frontline personnel number more than 127,000 troops and it has nearly 2,000 armored fighting vehicles at its disposal. Algeria also has the added benefit of its own oil reserves, allowing it to use its own fuel to power tanks, aircraft carriers, naval vessels, and more.


3. Ethiopia – Power Index: 1.3229

As a landlocked country, Ethiopia has focused its resources on developing its army and air force to an impressive degree (the GFP doesn’t penalize landlocked countries for not having a naval force). Several hundred thousand personnel make up its current force, and it has significant numbers of land and air systems at its disposal. An enormous population allows Ethiopia to maintain a large fighting force, and gives the country one of the greatest militaries on the continent.


4. South Africa – Power Index: 1.3467

As it hasn’t been embroiled in an international military conflict for some time, South Africa uses its highly advanced military for peacekeeping and international cooperation. Its aircraft and naval vessels are notoriously well equipped with the latest technology, and though the country has less than 100,000 active front line personnel, it has the capabilities and manpower for much more. Add to that a vast array of land system technology, and the South African military is a force to be reckoned with.


5. Nigeria – Power Index: 1.5261

Due to its size, it’s no surprise that several hundred thousand troops comprise the Nigerian Armed Forces — army, navy, and air force. Like Algeria, an abundant domestic oil supply eases the financial burden of involvement in military conflict. Nigeria has more than 1,400 armored vehicles, 360 tanks, and 6,000 logistical vehicles at its disposal, as well as nearly 300 aircraft and 25 high-powered naval vessels.


6. Kenya – Power Index: 1.7689

Kenya has established itself as a vital participant in international peacekeeping missions, and is able to do so due to its merchant marine strength and an enormous labor force – resulting in high available manpower. Though it doesn’t possess as much of its own equipment, its role as a member of international teams allows the Kenyan military to share resources with other countries, strengthening its own capabilities at the same time.


7. Morocco – Power Index: 1.8499

Highly dependent on foreign equipment, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces have been involved in the conflict with the POLISARO, a liberation movement fighting for the independence of Western Sahara. They are involved in numerous peacekeeping missions, including in Somalia. The military has at its disposal 2,120 armored fighting vehicles, 1,348 tanks, 323 total aircraft pieces, and a total naval strength of 121.

8. Tunisia – Power Index: 1.8635

The Tunisian Armed Forces is composed of three mechanized brigades, one Saharan territorial group, one special forces group, and one military police regiment. They have contributed to peacekeeping missions, including during the Rwandan genocide, and were forced into border clashes with Libyan rebels in 2011 during their civil war. They hold 900 armored fighting vehicles, 350 tanks, a manpower of over five million, 139 pieces of aircraft and a total naval strength of 50.


9. Angola – Power Index: 2.2599

The Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), headed by Chief of Staff Geraldo Nunda, succeeded the Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola in 1991. It has three components: the army, the navy, and the air force. Its involvement in training the armies of Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau was controversial, especially as the leaders of the 2012 Guinea-Bissau coup d’etat cited Angola’s military mission as a primary reason for an uprising. The FAA owns 920 armored fighting vehicles, 140 tanks, 270 pieces of aircraft, and has a navy of 56 craft.

10. Libya – Power Index: 2.3353

The strength of Libya’s military comes mainly from its large cache of equipment, despite a relatively small number of active troops. Further hampering Libya’s abilities is the continuing violence and unrest stemming from the revolution which began in 2011. A stable government has yet to emerge from it. Regardless, the country still has available 2,500 armored fighting vehicles, 500 tanks, 600 towed artillery pieces, 6,500 logistical vehicles, and much more.


11. Sudan – Power Index: 2.3465

The Sudanese Armed Forces serve and protect the Republic of Sudan. Their units are comprised of the land forces, air force, navy, and the Popular Defense Force–the military wing of National Islamic Front. Their enemies are the rebel group the Sudan People’s Liberation Army of the Republic of South Sudan — a result of two violent civil wars that split the nation. They receive most of their military equipment from Russia and China, including 360 tanks, 400 armed fighting vehicles, 168 aircraft, and 18 naval crafts.


12. Democratic Republic of Congo – Power Index: 2.6642

The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) started coming into its own after peace was restored following the horrendous Second Congo War, which ended in 2003. The military’s greatest asset is its land forces, although it also holds small air and naval units. Because of massive ongoing instability in the region, the U.N. has deployed armed forces to assist the FARDC. Some features of the DRC’s military include 90 tanks, 200 armored fighting vehicles, 42 aircraft types, and 20 naval vessels.


13. Uganda – Power Index: 2.6895

The Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) was formerly the National Resistance Army, renamed after the 1995 enactment of the constitution. It has almost managed to push the violent Lord’s Resistance Army — a children’s army — out of Uganda. UPDF relies heavily on Russian, Polish, and Chinese military materials. Its land systems consist of 350 armored fighting vehicles and 25 towed artillery pieces; 43 aircraft and eight naval vessels.


14. South Sudan – Power Index: 2.7689

Founded as a guerrilla movement in 1983, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) played a large and violent role in the disastrous Second Sudanese Civil War. Its commander-in-chief is Salva Kiir Mayardit, and it has a land force with 110 tanks, 250 armored fighting vehicles, 210,000 active front line personnel, and a tiny air force with nine aircraft.


15. Ghana – Power Index: 2.9726

The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) are supervised by the Ghanaian Ministry of Defense, and are under the command of President John Dramani Mahama. The GAF’s external operations since the 1960s have seen involvement in turbulent international situations including the Rwandan genocide, the Iran-Iraq war, and the Lebanese Civil War. Active front line personnel number 13,500, armored fighting vehicles for the land forces number 125, and the GAF has 24 aircraft, and 23 naval vessels.


16. Zimbabwe – Power Index: 3.0955

The Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) include the Zimbabwe National Army and the Air Force of Zimbabwe. Being a landlocked country, they lack a naval force. The country also holds a strong paramilitary force with its own air wing. ZDF includes 30,000 active personnel, 20,000 reserves, 325 armored fighting vehicles, and 92 aircraft.

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54 thoughts on “Malawi army misses on 16 most powerful militaries in Africa list”

  1. kholowa mkabudula says:

    Ha!ha! we are a blessed nation,highly protected by God’s hands. We don’t need anything like Chariots of Bronze, no!no! What people need to know is not about what our soldiers doing, a soldier is a soldier with strong weapons(1) We are just a poor nation ruled by greedy People who doesn’t care (2) We haven’t been tested yet so they can show their capability. You can see in Libya there’s no military but look their position!

  2. M'BAYA says:

    kumangotha ndalama za boma


    Shaaa zandinyasa kobasi INU Nigeria imapangachani , zokonderabasi AKULEPHERA KUGONJESA Bokoharam , Malawi iri pa nambala 1 MU AFRICAMUNO ZAMANYIBASI .

  4. Kwizman says:

    Oo stupid

  5. cherel says:

    ntchito mahule mu chilinde ndi mu 23, nkumati soldier, za uchitsiru zokhazokha basi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Lucius mbotwa says:

    In future

  7. Nigerian boy says:

    You guys are just stupid and ignorant mofos,have you guys forgotten how nigeria army stopped the liberian civil war? What about the sierra leone civil war? Even in somalia,nigeria has participated in peacekeeping missions in somalia,congo and many other countries of the world.
    Coming to boko haram insurgency,no african country would have survived an insurgency such as the one here in nigeria! The nigerian army is just under rated in the ranking,it should have been in on the top………a small,landlocked and poor country like malawi will be talking down on the giant of africa,don’t you know that only the nigerian police will take over your country in hours? If nigeria sneezes africa catches cold! RESPECT NIGERIA!

    1. do u understand english or hausa??
      is the story here about nigeria or malawi??

      1. okonkwo says:

        i think ibo

    2. Peter Mathanyula Wakuba, formerly known as Obanda Joyce Ntilen says:

      Oh fuck off you egusi-soup eating, pepper chewing, Palm wine drinking west african monkey. Why don’t you go commit some internet scam, passport forgery somewhere. With your arrogant boastful and loud self. You dirty Nigerian!

  8. yohane says:

    This can be true bro, Malawi has failled so many times by allowing americans to train them and show them weapons. We cant hide things to these guys otherwise we will not benefit. On your own infromation do you know that all the equipment that we use are danations from our collonial master and well wishers. Starting from jombo to whatever. The good thing is that we dont neeed these lets do farming feed people and get drunk with our solders have lot of sex with queens of the night at devil street.

  9. munyasa says:

    nigeria i dont agree… oooh boko haram is most powerful …malawi is more powerfull too coz we r at peace…..i love my country…..

  10. Chief says:

    Know this:Malawi have war equipment that can be sustained for 20 years

  11. Taziona says:

    Ambuye tetezani malawi.

  12. Bristol says:

    I wonder the criteria used to come up with powerful militaries in Africa. The criteria to me is not necessarily the strength of the army of these countries. If DR Congo is strong, why do they need help from UN? Libya,. Nigeria and South Sudan, why are their armies strong when they cannot deal with rebels in those countries? My opinion, the strong militaries in Africa are South Africa, Egypt, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda and Algeria and not other countries listed here.

  13. BABAZULA DA IZO says:


  14. quochobo says:

    Why worry about such? Powerful military are only found in war torn regions or countries with bloody histories. If you are peaceful and not fighting, why show your might? Countries like Zambia, Malawi, Botswana etc dont need to be on such lists!

  15. Kulinda Mtere says:

    I don’t understand what interest some of these research works are meant to serve. The last thing that Africa needs is to glorified itself as a military super-continent when she is failing to feed her own people.

    1. mbadwa says:

      We don’t butcher people here

  16. I’m not very conversant with military matters, but I’m aware that these are usually highly guarded state secrets. I do not believe that any country would disclose information that allows others to determine its military strength. As a civilian, I do not know whether MDF has jet fighters or not, they may or may not have.

    Besides, the equipment alone is not a guarantee that a defense force wins a war. In my view there are so many factors at play, tactics etc. Like in a game of football, we have all witnessed a star studded team being humiliated by a little known team. It all depends on the team’s approach to the game and the tactics employed.

    To me, all this is meaningless. It does not mean that Malawi does not have the capacity to defend itself against aggressors, even the so called most powerful on the continent can be humiliated.

    By the way, does anyone know what happened to the mighty Americans in Vietnam and more recently in Somalia? Ask Bill Clinton about Somalia.

  17. The Patriot says:

    This is one Index we dont care if we are top 16 or NOT! What is the use of having military hardware when we dont have threat internal or external? All the countries in the top 16 have either been fighting or are fighting wars, we are peaceful and we dont care if we are the least militarily powerful nation or NOT!

  18. imran says:

    army still using tata trucks!!!!!!

  19. Nobel says:

    We seriously need modern weaponery equipment. We dont have to wait for donations. The mere fact that we’re at peace doesnt warrant us entertain outdated guns and aircrafts. Thank God that our govt has started shopping with ammunitions maybe we’ll hear them buying modern ‘mbaulas’ and hellocopters.

  20. keke says:

    This is coming as no surprise to the people who are following what has been happening and is hapeening in our country. To raise a good army it needs agood political wil. How can u develop your army when you are busy sponsoring young democrats and cadets and not forgetting the young pioneers. check well even university of Malawi does appear in top 100, football. WE NEED TO HAVE POLITICIANS WHO ARE PATRIOTIC FOR US TO ACHIEVE THIS.

  21. Bwalero says:

    This index is about country’s threats and size of armies..what do you about DRC?

  22. Honest says:

    God is our overseer no need for war hence no need kuti tikhale mu top 16

  23. mbuje says:

    I think one of the reasons why Malawi is not found on the top 16 is because we haven’t been at war for the past 50 years .Most of the countries in the top 16 have been having some sort of conflicts internally or externally .Nanga tingogula zida zambirimbiri kuti ziziola ? But our army need modern high technological armours nanga zomwe anasiya KAMUZU mpaka lero kumagwiritsabe ntchito .Komanso zida zankhondo sitiyanera kupatsidwa ngati donation we need to buy them ourselves as a country .

  24. wakuda kwambiri says:


  25. MGUY says:

    tisinthe basi

  26. DIWU_DIWU says:

    Malawi ndi Tanzania ali pati?tiwuzeni msanga tisanakaishoshe nkhani yakulimbirana malire anyanja yathu.

  27. Yesaya Dziko says:

    Africa is a huge continent the stats are not making sense. But thank God we are at peace.

  28. pat says:

    olo munakat top 40 i dnt think mdf inakapezekapo,nanga army yongokhala ndi mifuti ndi ma land cruiser mumat ndi army?moti zankhondoz osamakambaso ayi…ndie umpeze matama ake soldier pa malawi

  29. KIM GAMA says:

    Koma kuba mowa mma shop number 1 ndikumawopseza anthu

  30. kamowa says:

    Sangakhale pa mndandanda apa nkhondo yawo ndi kuthamangisana ndi ma supporter ku stadium basi ndi teargas….

  31. Zidura Ntengo Undigwere says:

    NyasaTimes, you know guys, get serious. This is not news to most of us in this country. We are a very small, landlocked and peaceful (within) country. We simply cannot afford a stronger military. If anyone, I mean anyone, was to attack us, we would (or should) just run right a way, tail between the legs. There is a school of thought that may be we should not even have an armed forces at all.
    I would venture to say we may even be in the bottom five or three on the list. It is the best we can do; and perhaps we should not be ashamed of this at all.

  32. Mambosasa says:

    This is fake! Nigeria must be in the weakest 16 while MDF in top 3. They are failing to defeat Boko Haram while MDF mauled MYP terrorist gangs in a week!

  33. Abonzi says:

    MDF ya asilikali a mbina oti sanga menye friendly ndi ena osakwapulidwa mwachangu! Amangodziwa matukutuku munseu akadya bandi basi

  34. mjiba says:

    no wonder. they are the most disciplined of armed forces in Africa. even when TZ is threatening to redraw the boundaries on the lake, they are yet to start protecting the lake. They can’t feature even in the top 40

  35. arms deal first says:

    Don’t blame our men in uniform(mdf). We should blame our politicians. Army doesn’t buy weapon own its own without MG1 approve. All our x president sankagula zida mukuganiza kuti asilikali anthu angakhale pa pos yabwino? JB government wanted to buy Ida & this bomb linaati kugura zida ife ayi,pamenepo tingati anyamata athu ngolephera? No!.mayiko ambiri amagula zida zankhondo mwina monthly koma kuno we too much kulowelera zaku mdf maka zamagulidwe. Leave them independently,giv them what they want 2 hav, then if they fail ndipamene tidzawaloze chala

  36. Charter says:

    If Nigeria can be #5 when they cow to Boko Haram and cannot rescue the 300 girls, then there are no armies in Africa! Only militias!!

  37. Ma says:

    No equipment mw army within 24 hours TZ itha kutiwerusa.

  38. phodzo says:

    Interesting to see DRC on the top 16 list, our troops and Tanzania troops helped the Congolese to defeat M 23. The Congolese couldnt do it themselves. What is this based on? I believe its the size of the force not efficiency, if it was efficiency Nigeria should have been last on the list, they cannot fight Boko boys. I am not surprised with the negative comments, they are possibly coming from UNIMA graduates which is not even in the top 100 of African Universities. Its a shame most Malawians are not aware of what MDF has achieved in the Congo. In Malawi, news is when someone goes to big brother. Try to find out what your Army is doing in other parts of Africa instead of reading about house mates. By the way since when did the lake issue became a military one, last time I checked, it was a diplomacy issue and there are no TZ forces on the lake. Umbuli a Malawi.

  39. Bongololo says:

    Rightfully so! What equipment does the Malawi Army have to be considered one of the best? I bet they’re still using second world war rocket launchers while our neighbors have F22’s. Look for the Malawi Defence Force at the bottom on the list.

  40. Magogodela says:

    Munena azimayi athuwa,timamwa nawo kachasu mwakaumamu? Awa koma kupandana ndi a Polisi ndi Pioneer ndiye nambala 1….

    Amatengeranso zida zankhondo…makamaka modern military equipment, Zimbabwe yachita pass apayi ili ndi ma fighter jets! Inuyo muli ndi ma fighter jet?

  41. apolitical says:

    Nyasatimes reporter what is ur motive when u say “MDF conspicuously missing from 16 most powerful militaries in Africa?”? There r also a number of countries who r not in the 16 list but have an outstanding array of weapons, countries such as Senegal, Mali,, Ivory Coast, Botswana, Tanzania, Rwanda, Mocambique even Zambia. Bring out the whole list so that we may know our position which I don’t think will b impressive because MDF does not have a fully fledged airforce, navy and armoured unit!

  42. Mulopwana Wa Mamwene says:

    bodza ili

  43. Karonga Boy says:

    Ndimadabwatu Kuti Bwanji Nyanja Yathu Ikupita Ku Mataifa?Koma Chomwe Amadziwa Iwo Ndi Matama Basi Akamayenda n’tawuni Ndi Umbava .

  44. Patriot says:

    Mumati atichite classify pati ndi zibonga zathu zija?

  45. komatu simatukutuku ake malawi defense force-yo,

    1. SALOME says:

      tinyumba tomwe amakhala kumvetsa chisoni, kamuzu barracks umve uli thoo!!!

  46. GAMPHANI says:


    1. Simbongoya says:

      mantha arm yathu, paja osaiwala khwangwala wamantha amafa ndi ukalamba.

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