South Sudan military spending doubles to $1bn, highest in region

By: ALLAN OLINGO, The EastAfrican, Posted Saturday, April 25 2015, SSN;


Africa’s youngest nation relies on oil revenue to fund about 80 per cent of its budget.
South Sudan’s military spending rose to $1.08 billion last year, up from $982 million in 2013.
Since December 2013, South Sudan has been fighting dissident soldiers and armed civilians led by former vice president Dr Riek Machar.

Region counts the cost as S.Sudan crisis goes into second year. South Sudan has nearly doubled its military spending since 2010, and now ranks as the region’s biggest spender — a skewed spending policy that will hurt key sectors such as health, education and infrastructure.

Africa’s youngest nation relies on oil revenue to fund about 80 per cent of its budget. However, output has reduced significantly due to the ongoing conflict in the country and the rapid decline in oil prices.

Last year, total income from oil stood at $3.38 billion. However, after deducting $884 million in payments due to its neighbour Sudan and $781 million as loan repayments to donors as well as international financiers, South Sudan remained with just $1.715 billion from oil revenue.

A report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released last week shows a rise in South Sudan’s military spending to $1.08 billion last year, up from $982 million in 2013. This means that Juba spent more than 60 per cent of its net oil revenue on the military.

Since December 2013, South Sudan has been fighting dissident soldiers and armed civilians led by former vice president Dr Riek Machar.

Early last year, the Cabinet approved an emergency fund of $2.6 million mainly to finance its military forces as it engaged the rebels.

In July, during the budget presentation, the country’s former finance minister Aggrey Tisa Sabuni, said that the government would spend 41 per cent of its budget on security, including the military.

“I have allocated $737.8 million to the national army and $262.9 million to the police, prison and fire services. We expect that oil revenue will contribute about 80 per cent of this year’s budget,” said Mr Sabuni.

In 2012, South Sudan ordered close to 100 Ukrainian T-72 tanks; part of this military hardware was delivered last year.

In contrast, Kenya cut its military spending last year to $819 million, from $861 million in 2013, despite the fact that the country continues to face an increasing threat from transnational terrorists.

Homegrown terrorists sympathetic to the Al Shabaab militants, whom the Kenyan forces have been fighting in Somalia since 2011, have proved to be a challenge for the country, yet in its 2014/15 financial year, Kenya did not allocate any funds for crime research and investigations.

Funding operations

In the 2014/15 financial year, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said that the bulk of the security vote of $800 million would go to the military, which is involved in operations in Somalia.

So far, the Kenyan military has spent $447 million in Somalia, with the government providing $215 million for the mission, and the United Nations expected to shoulder the rest.

The country’s defence budget was to go into acquiring 10 new military helicopters, refurbishment of three grounded Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters and installation of closed circuit (CCTV) surveillance cameras in 10 cities.

Tanzania, for its part, increased its military spending marginally in 2014 to $460 million from $408 million in 2013, according to SIPRI’s estimates.

Tanzania has been sprucing up its navy over the past two years as it seeks to defend its newly discovered offshore petroleum resources. Last year, the country acquired 14 new J-7Gs fighter jets, Type 63A amphibious tanks, A100 multiple rocket launchers and Type 07PA self-propelled mortars from China.

Meanwhile, Uganda increased its military budget to $322 million last year, up from $302 million the previous year.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the conflict in South Sudan has increased Uganda’s military spending. The Ministry of Defence allocation in the 2014/15 budget was 12 per cent higher than the previous year, and the Defence Ministry requested two supplementary budgets amounting to $64 million.

Uganda allocations

In its 2014/15 financial year, Uganda allocated $400 million to its army that was expected to finance its interventions in Somalia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where its forces are hunting down the notorious warlord Joseph Kony and his Lords Resistance Army (LRA) rebels.

“Over the 2013/14 financial year, the government has continued to strengthen the capabilities of our armed forces and other security agencies through the acquisition of modern security, defence equipment and other logistical facilities, as well as the improvement of staff welfare and training,” Uganda’s former finance minister Maria Kiwanuka said in her budget speech.

Uganda has bought MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets in the past few years, which are still being delivered, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on Sukhoi SU-30 combat aircraft.

Rwanda, on its part, makes for interesting statistics. Despite being the only country that has been actively involved in military campaigns in the DRC over the past five years, the country’s military spending remains the lowest in the region. Last year, Kigali’s military spending grew by 4.1 per cent to $85.9 million, up from $82.3 million in 2013.

Rwanda has acquired the reputation as a reliable peacekeeper, all the while benefiting from training as well as from reimbursements for purchases of weapons. The country has peacekeepers in South Sudan and Sierra Leone. Last year, it bought new Mil Mi-17 helicopters and a medium-range surface-to-air defence missile system from China.

Burundi also increased its spending last year to reach $62.2 million, up from $60.9 million in 2013.


  1. David Lokosang says:

    The reason for this big military spending is quite obvious, the man call Salfa Kiir lacks vision and has no any qualification for the job. Has any one heard him one day talking about social economic program? no at all. He just wont to be a benj ((the president)) whether by iron fist or any other means. Imagine last year he was talking on SSV do you know what he said! and I quote ” this year the government has put in place programme to eradicate malaria” I thought they might have allocated a budget for research program which come up with some recommendation how to combat malaria all over the country but unfortunate he said we have brought more mosquito nets and more medicine. It was like a joke but that was true. I was shocked and said to myself is this a curse or what! how comes we were lead by an intellectual minded person like DR. Garang who was well recognised and respected worldwide then all of the sudden we end up with a banana head like Salfa Kiir. Corruption is beyond repair, economy is collapsing and no policy to fix it, security is worst, health system is zero, poor education system what else reason can we give to maintain this poor man in power. Suppose the theory of majority rule apply, is there no one from those who claim to be the majority that is well educated and has a vision and capability to administer our country?
    The only way for South Sudanese to get out of this mess is to unite regardless of tribe, religion, state or culture and get rid of those bandits in Juba and choose able people to run the country.

    • BILL KUCH says:

      David Lokosang,
      You sure don’t know what the hell you are claiming. The qualification I know I should let you know right now based on your on your people fought the war with you during liberation. So President Kiir was the most qualified person for he had many soldiers from his own tribe and clan. So, you should blame that spending on rebellions. And specially Dr. Riek should be the one for much blames. The point here is, militias rebeled for the purposes of promoting themselves to the ranks of general and came back for an integration to get pay. However, more rebellions is equal to more spending as no rebellions is to less spending. And that is exactly where the problem is.

  2. Choromke Jas says:

    I wish the billions are actually used in running genuine military operations and purchases. Bu lo! they go straight in the pockets of the generals and their SPLM cronies. Yet, yet, these thieves have the gumption to tell South Sudanese that they (the thieves) are heroes of liberation. No sirs, you are mercenaries and we the people have paid and continue to pay you handsomely. Does a hero needs to sing about his hero-ness? Is Fr Saturnino Ohure a hero or not? Is Mandela a hero? Is Mahatma Gandhi a hero? How did these three leave behind in dollar values when they died? And is Salva Kiir a hero? How much is he worth now in dollars? Take your pick.

    • info@southsudannation says:

      According to SPLM/A one-time intelligence Chief, Edward Lino Abyei, himself, Kiir alone is worth 1 billion of stolen dollars. He’s more of a thief than some small-brained tribal ‘hero.’

      • Force_1 says:

        You people are so dumb! You only want to claim your share when it’s something you wanted to put into your pocket or mouth; but when it’s something that was ending people’s lives like the liberation of this country; you never intended to claim any of it and you were nowhere to be found to be part of liberation! How idiotic?

        Who refuse to cultivate his garden during the rainy season and complain later on after the harvest that he is never given enough of the fruit produced by those who work hard to make the harvest happened? Cowardice and laziness never pays but the idiots never understand that notion in South Sudan!

  3. False Millionaire says:

    Mr Jas,
    You hit the bottom of the truth.But did you know why the don’t want to end the war?To keep the same business going on infinitely!!!

  4. J son of man says:

    Now what is helping Kiir(thug) is one thing, that’s, he is fighting a traitor some p’ple are now in dilemma either to join the traitor or see the country going to hell with Kiir being a LUSUPA ( SATURN). Am personally confused i don’t know wat i should do but Kiir must leave brothers and have to face all the crimes he committed during his reign. The time is now that we have to support atleast G 10 B’SE they will not betray us like Kiir and Dr. traitor or we encourage p’ple’s revolution but leave tribalism coz it is not all the dinkas that support Kiir the like of ME and so many OTHERS. I thank and appreciate the comments of patriots like David Kosang coz he’s another Dr. John of our error thank u bro keep it up, south sudan needs p’ple like u.

  5. False Millionaire says:

    Mr David,
    We are still lucky to have witnessed the faces of the two extremes:the brilliant part,”by an intellectual minded person like Dr Garang”,and the darkest part by,”a banana head like Salfa Kiir”.It would be a more grave tragedy if the two experiences fail to teach us useful lessons that can help our leaders of tomorrow to lead better.

  6. False Millionaire says:

    J son of man,
    “…support at least the G 10”,are you out of your mind or are you simply a thieve among them who have come here to play sorcerer’s tricks becouse you think every citizen is a fool?You owe to explain why honest people should support thieves!!!

  7. jok lual says:

    to mr David general Kiir is a very military qualification than Riek machar
    so please go eat your monkey and keep quite

  8. Aluong Deng Bul says:

    How can a dull man like Kiir can be a good military general, and when did Kiir become a good military general, and which town did he liberate during the war? He was just a bunch of failure embodied in himself. The reason why he survived is because of his coward. Tell me a single tough decision whether right or wrong Kiir as a commander took, none.

  9. Jake says:

    Kiir ‘s military record in SPLA is Zero towns captured and Zero Battles won. He was simply put as number 2 to Garang to control the foolish Majority of Bar Elgazal region. By being put as number 2 the 2004 Yei scenario was put on hold for a while. Till when he was about to be replaced with Nhial Deng Nhial, then Kiir tried to organize a Bar Elgazal lead mutiny against Garang Mabior.
    So what Military superiority does Kiir possess over Riek?
    Clearly the only reason he has an upper hand now is because of James Hoth Mai ‘s created alliances with the Rebel groups and UPDF. Plus Malong Awan ‘s tribal Militias

    • Jake,

      I strongly agree with you man. Kiir has been a loser in twenty years of SPLA struggle for change. He never captured even a village. In 1983, Kiir led Tiger battalions’ war in Pochalla, but Tiger Battalions were killed like fish in Pochalla and they lost Pochallo miserably. Shortly, before they attack Pochalla, Kiir asked Tiger Battalion to hold parade while the government soldiers in Pochalla were watching at them, so the Tiger Battalions were attacked on their parade and they were killed like house flies.

      After losing Pochalla, Kiir was assigned to capture Kurmuk, but lost Kurmuk. Then William Nyuon assigned to Kurmuk and he took Kurmuk from the government. While Kurmuk was in the hand of SPLA, William Nyuon left for Equatoria. Kiir went to Kurmuk. The government retook Kurmuk from Kiir.

      Sudan government retook Pochalla from the SPLA in Feb, 1992. In April, 1992, Kiir was assigned to retake Pochalla. Kiir came to us in Buma seeking for more soldiers, so Buma’s Commander Kuol Dim, gave three test forces to Kiir in addition to 3,000 soldiers that came with him from Equatoria. Hence, I was one of those three test forces given to Kiir to take the war to Pochalla.

      We were stationed in Okella, a town located East of Pibor and West of Pochalla. This is where I came to learn that Kiir Mayardit is totally a natural foolish commander when he ordered us at 12PM to attach Pocholla by 2PM. Shortly, after we left Okella for Pochalla, we fall into a serious deadly ambush in Ajuara, 30 minutes west of Pochalla. None of all wounded SPLA soldiers was carried away. The government soldiers chased us away like birds.

      Overall, Kiir has been a loser since he was the SPLA commander. How do South Sudanese expect Kiir to be a successful president while he has an extreme loser when he was a field commander?

  10. Joana Adams says:

    First let the AU leaked report be officially published.
    Second, let the UN Sanctions regime be implemented to degrade the fighting capacities of the culprits.
    Third, let the South Sudan failed state be placed under UN Trusteeship or be partitioned into 3 confederal states.
    Then the kleptocrats and genocidaries must be tried in the proposed hybrid court, for the country to recover its stolen billions from Kiir and cohorts. It’s when the black evil hat is put away for eternity that South Sudan’s children languishing in squalid camps or hidding in bushes feeding on wild fruits, can find decent food to eat, schools to go to and medines to stop them from dying of malaria and diarrhoea.
    To steal I billon US dollars in just 10 years in power from the mouth of starving children, crawling elderly people and hungry pregnant mothers is utterly obscene. Kiir and co. with their ‘predatory genes’ have truly destroyed the country’s fragile economic base.
    Furthermore, the country is infested with militias everywhere. Now the Somaliasation of the country is almost complete. How nice, how so very nice!

    Joana Adams

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