The persistence and the complication of conflicts in Africa are partially due to small arms proliferation.
The consequences of small arms on African people due to international conflicts within Africa, rebel group activities, mercenary groups, and armed gang activities have yet to be fully measured. The International Action Network on Small Arms, Saferworld, and Oxfam International put it in perspective when they reported that armed conflict cost Africa $18 billion each year.
Although proliferation of small arms generates a lot of money for those who manufacture and trade them, African people pay a heavy price due to a lack of accountability or international regulations to address the abuses those products cause.
According to the Global Facilitation Network Security Sector Reform, nations such as France, Russia, China, UK and USA – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – together account for 88 percent of the world’s conventional arms exports. These exports contribute regularly to gross abuses of human rights in Africa and elsewhere. Some of these are legal arms sales to irresponsible governments who use them to oppress the people.
Political instability in Africa continues to create more demand for small arms. Manufacturers of weapons know best the link between politics and weapons markets and are therefore often linked to these political instabilities to take advantage of the weapons business it creates.
In addition to the illegal arms sales network, there is a link between the legal and the illegal trade that consists of illegally selling legally obtained arms. This is the core of the problem of small arms proliferation which violators are not interested in solving.