If the entire African continent willingly unified as one, continental nation, would they be the most militarily powerful nation in the world?
The thing with all of these "what if X" type military questions it seems like the question always assumes that military power is measured in the number of space-lasers, or some other piece of high-tech equipment. It actually doesn't really matter if the group or country in question doubled it's military spending.
The vast majority of African countries don't have much in the way of professional militaries the way we think of them in the west. The State Department will talk about how many troops they can field and what kind of equipment they have.
The three biggest obstacles to the armies of Africa are:
- Illiteracy and language. The literacy rates are terrible, even among many of the officers. This makes written orders and task-organization below the company level basically impossible. The brigade staff might be able to produce orders that would make West Point professors proud, but those orders are half-understood at the battalion level and incomprehensible at the company level. Add to this that all the soliders in a given company frequently do not even speak the same language.
- Consolidation of power. Delegation is a foreign concept. The lack of a real NCO corps means that a company commander has to fill in all of the leadership positions normally held by platoon leaders, squad leaders, and team leaders. As a result the commander is only able to command the soldiers he can see and talk to.
- Time. Africa has a very fluid sense of time. Everyone has a cell phone but nobody has a wrist watch. Executing or completing tasks on time is a major challenge. Without a strong sense of time it is very hard to backwards plan. An attack just after nightfall is likely an hour early or an hour late.
Add to this that many of their militaries major equipment is single digits: A country might have helicopters: one is used by the president and the other one is most likely grounded and waiting on parts.
O.T. Ford, world geographer, Ph.D., UCLA
Certainly not. A united Africa would be superior to the United States in population. It could potentially field a larger army — but not necessarily, since armies must be paid and equipped. And a united Africa would be smaller than both China and India in population; neither of them is even so much as a peer to the US militarily. How would Africa be different?
The US has the world’s most powerful military, by far, because of technology, experience, wealth, and willingness to spend that wealth, and only, after all of that, a large population. Even a united European Union, which would have a larger population and comparable wealth, would be behind the US on the other three, and thus would not produce a military like the US. A united Africa would be far, far behind in nearly all of the qualities that make a modern military effective.
And that’s all hypothetical. Many of the recognized countries in Africa are not themselves united politically. By the time the African states could overcome their divisions, we’d probably have a single world government anyway, and no need for a modern military.
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Viswanath Ajikumar, I am sorry, was that too honest for you?
Yes. I see that most answers here are only considering the sum of the individual parts. But, as is the case in most instances of a similar nature, the result in such a scenario will also be greater than the sum of the parts.
Let us consider one simple part of the problem to understand why such a claim is not far fetched: if the entire continent was willingly unified, then there would be no more violence or lack of internal security in Africa. Sectarian violence which continues to tear apart the continent would vanish overnight.
What do you expect the result of that to be?
A vast majority of the people of Africa live in chronic poverty. With a unified government in control of the vast resources of the entire continent, this population would rapidly start to raise itself out of this poverty, and become the largest market in the world (especially since security is now not a problem). With the abundance of natural resources, Africa is pretty much self sufficient, and with a single governing authority, they would be able to leverage this to their advantage. They would be able to get rid of some, if not most, of the exploitation they suffer at the hands of private interests as well as foreign powers.
It will take a huge effort to bring about a proper base from where to launch the new nation of Africa into the superpower-dom, but let us look at the facts here: combined at present day scenario, the African continent would be one of the top 6 or seven powers in the world. Starting in such a position, Africa would rapidly (I would go so far as to say within five years) start realizing their true potential, if the governance is equal to the task, and the condition of "willingly unified" is truly met.
And once the crushing poverty has been alleviated, and the middle class starts to grow and open up to the outside world, with investments pouring in and the stricken continent finally getting the value for its enormous reserves of natural resources, Africa would rapidly become the preeminent power in the world.
Ryan Lanham, Futurist
Mr. Bilaji Viswanathan answered the question well. More generally...
A United States of Africa is a good idea.
It would help a billion people cope with corruption, and government transition much better. I think 2-4 countries would be optimal rather than one. For now, it is a dream.
So many of the African countries lack ports or infrastructure that they need massive centralized development strategies and micro-development strategies. Banks... railroads, roads... even the most basic requirements are staggering.
Obviously there should be an Islam/non-Islam divide because no one aside from India has yet worked out a co-existance strategy of any significance between Islam and anything else. Indonesia included. Tanzania will doubtlessly have problems ahead.
The Sahel needs to be turned back. The world continues to face a desertification catastrophe that really no one is doing much about.
Something on the scale of Brazil from Congo toward the South would be a natural resource titan and incorporate some of the administrative capacity of South Africa. The trouble with national mergers is that one side loses power--so they rarely happen peacefully... unlike in business, where one side is bought out. There isn't much incentive for union absent a territorial threat or trade. Intra-Africa trade is puny.
I've always wondered why there are no rail firms or good roads between nations. China is addressing this to be sure, but Britain really missed the boat compared to India--and Belgium and French colonial rule was a catastrophe--more than usual in colonialism. Belgium especially.
Rail could have made all the difference--highways would make a difference. It really needs a pan-continental development plan.
Africa has few natural ports--one reason it never thrived. That needs some sort of technology solution on a geo-engineering scale. I would have loved to work on it as I hold no common Northern racial suspicions or biases against what is feasible. In the end, no one has ever made much of an effort to make Africa work. I fear that will continue as long as there is no compelling global reason.
Tribalism and corruption are so rife, it is hard to imagine Africa getting its act together absent a lot of intervention from China--which has worked wonders, for example, in Tanzania. The US just doesn't have anything to gain and Europe is increasingly irrelevant in those terms--even Russia. I'm afraid it will have to be organic, and the tribal, religious and educational issues are so profound, I fear progress will be painfully slow.
Africa's population: 1.1 billion [3rd largest after China and India]
Africa's GDP: $2.3 trillion [8th largest, a little bigger than India's, a little smaller than Brazil's, and less than a sixth of USA]
Total African Military spending: $45 billion [10th biggest spender in the world, just behind India. US spends 15 times more
If Africa united well as a single nation, it would be as powerful as India. US, Russia and China would still be far ahead.
Nikolaj Antonov, swedish
If we exclude the modern military equipment and technology, which require enormous intellectual human resources and huge military budget, we can see the following.
To unite the whole continent, it is necessary that people in all countries of the continent have a high level of life, loved his country and neighboring countries, feel kinship with all the inhabitants of the continent. I have doubts about this about Africa. Something similar is in the Scandinavian countries plus Finland Nordic Passport Union
Infrastructure should be organically bind the entire continent. I do not see this in Africa.
To voluntarily united Africa, they should have a government or a government or a leader who can do it necessarily peacefully. I have doubt that this is possible in Africa.
UNHCR - Africa ++ African Refugees Fear Europe Is Leaving Them Behind
Finally. To be a respected partner in all the world, it is no need to spend huge amounts of money on the military budget and to be "The Most Militarily Powerful Nation in The World".
Ahani Akbar, I play gears of war
Yes I think so.Heres why.
For the entire continent to unite willingly Africa would have had to solve all her internal struggles and conflicts.All the tribal racial ethnic and religious divides.That alone would be astonishing. It would mean allot actually.
Just imagine what it would take for this to happen. It would probably be the greatest social upheaval since nations first started practicing democracy. Whatever it would take to pull off a united Africa it would set the new country on a course for super power status.
For this to happen most of Africa's problems would have to have been solved leaving just a few things geography and climate.These issues on top of man made ones have always kept Africa lagging behind the rest of the world.
How would the world be affected if the Dark Continent where to unite?
I imagine Africa would kick out foreigners and invite Africans who left in the past back.For example the white farmers who are having their land seized in South Africa and Ghana's open invitation to those of Africa's decent Abroad to return.
Instead of raising an army since Africa is probably not interested in world conquest the continent had plenty of resources they would create an engineer corps too build infrastructure.Highways, railways airportsports harbors.They would invest in industry and create products that can be sold abroad.
The country could do something like China become the world's factory but on an even larger scale Imagine the Thousands of favorites spread across the Sahara producing everything from cellphones to cars
The big money comes from patents and add time goes on and education rises many scientist and inventors will come up in Africa.
So in conclusion the fact that Africa is able to unite in my opinion means they would have the ability to rival all the other powers on earth.And who could challenge her
Surya Narayana Murthy Mandavilli, Political Observer
A Big No
Considering Military Expenditure as a scale for the advanced and powerful military the US spends more than the next 15 countries combined on its defence. which is something around $650 billion. More than the GDP of several nations.
At its peak the US even spent $711 billion on military
Africa's GDP considering their population of 1.1 billion would somewhere near or less than that of India's GDP of $2 trillion. Then they couldn't spend a quarter of that on military. Even if they spent that much the technology the US possess is still far more superior than that of many other countries.
So that's a conclusive no.
Emeka Nwankwo, studied at Michael Okpara University Of Agriculture
Aside from the fact that Africa has a large human population, the continent also has one of the highest concentration of ethnic groups in the world.
A united Africa, as a nation, will not only be waste of resources and time but a waste of life as the different ethnic groups in the nation will be locked in ethnocentric wars and constant leadership crisis.
Obviously wars in Africa are not inter-country but intra-country. Imagine what will happen if we become a single country. ***I shudder at the thought.
What's more, military resources will be directed at quelling the constant outbreak of fights to consider making any significant growth
Nick Malik, Not beholden to one way of thinking
No, not even close. China would still have a larger army, and the US would have a stronger navy and air force and arguably a better trained and equipped army.
If Africa unites into a federal system, stabilizes the rule of law, ends wars, and invests in education, infrastructure, and business friendly practices, that new nation would be rich in resources and likely one of the fastest growing economies on Earth.
Kris Lim, Interested in International Relations in general.
Military might comes from modern, sohisticated hardware and good training. None is possible without an economy that can sustain them.
Being a big united country doesn’t guarantee economic success in a globalised, interconnected and competitive 21st century. Being united and getting their act together will be a good start.
Nina, Is butter a carb?
No. There's too many differences between countries in Africa. Ethnic challenges, religious disputes, tribalism, power-drunk "presidents" and let's not forget corruption. Trying to get an African region to cooperate is difficult on it's own, so trying to get the entire continent to cooperate will be much more difficult. Too many different cultures, languages, political systems, etc.
This is coming from a Kenyan.
Becoming developed and militaristically powerful depends on lots of factors and not just large area and big population. Countries like Japan, UK, France were never that big but still they were greatest military and economic powers of their time and still are in many respects.
So no, African will still be as third world and underdeveloped as it is now and with even more problems.
Not anytime soon, but it would certainly be a very strategic location and platform for the more distant future.
E.A.M Takai, I am a Zimbabwean.
It's a non starter African leaders will never ever work together because of their behaviour. They are uncontrollable and lacks sense of humour. All the summit in African continent had the purpose of driving their personal deals which doesn't benefits the entire population of Africa
Tapas Singh Rathore, works at Tata Consultancy Services
It will never be viable, as a country so large as that of Africa. Whole of the money will go to maintenance of the military. It has to cope up with almost all terrains ( rainforest, Desert, mountains, sea etc) , maintaining such a army will never be economical at any sense . Even tough it may be larger but can never be competitive.
Joe Belkin, An opinionated American.
Africa's main issue is the cultural belief that the best form of government is a "village strongman" that is unquestioned ... What African country hasn't fought multiple civil wars based on ethnicity and that is still inchanging. No one questions their smarts, they just have to move to a new matrix.
Gabriel Chan, well read
For at least the next 100 years, the nation with the most powerful military is the USA
Militarily NO....economically Maybe in 10-15 years time with so much expensive natural resource to exploit.
Nathan Ye, Knowledgable on things regarding militaries of the world
No, not yet apt least. They would be one of the fastest developing in the world seeing all the a rural resources they have
Robert J. Kolker
- uniting a group of mostly underdeveloped nations together would not make a powerful economically coherent nation