A recent study reported by an American publication affiliated with the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has shed light on the origins of weapons deployed in the Sahel region and Africa as a whole.
The study reveals that the primary sources of these weapons are the looted Libyan arsenal as well as suppliers from Russia and China.
The African Defense Forum magazine, published by AFRICOM, provided estimated figures for the scale of the arsenal deployed in the region. Experts believe that as many as 8 million small and light weapons are dispersed throughout the Sahel region, despite the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Agreement on International Trade in Small Arms that was signed in 2006.
The weapons in question originate from various sources, including national military arsenals. They are acquired through theft, seizure, or retention by armed forces after leaving service.
While a small percentage of the weapons are locally manufactured, the majority are imported, often from Russia or China. Additionally, a significant portion of the weapons can be traced back to the looting of Libyan arsenals following the downfall of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The study highlights the concerning proliferation of weapons in the region and the need for enhanced efforts to curb the illicit arms trade. It underscores the importance of addressing both the looting of existing arsenals and preventing the inflow of weapons from foreign suppliers.