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Ethiopia is the only African country to have preserved its independence throughout the ‘scramble for Africa’ period. Regional instability, however, has resulted in the infiltration of arms into the country. Ethiopia’s continued occupation of part of Eritrean territory, the South Sudan conflict, and the country’s involvement in the armed conflict against al-Shabaab in Somalia have all increased the flow of arms to Ethiopia. For years, there have also been insurgencies in the country and clashes between military forces and non-state armed actors.1 In 2020, the conflict between the federal and Tigray governments broke out in the north of the country as tensions between numerous ethnic groups increased. A peace accord was signed in November 2022, but the calm remains fragile.2

The country’s guiding gun control legislation includes the Firearm Administration and Control Proclamation of 2020; however, no comprehensive or consolidated legislation exists to control small arms and light weapons.3 In 2020, a project providing training on the digital data collection of weapons and ammunition stockpiles was implemented – in cooperation with the Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies (BICC) and the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA) – to improve weapons and ammunition management.4


1 Aemro Tenaw Birhan, “Regulating Proliferation and Misuse of Small Arms in Eastern Gojjam Zone of Amhara Regional State” (thesis, Institute for Peace and Security Studies, 2022),

2 “Turning the Pretoria Deal into Lasting Peace in Ethiopia,” International Crisis Group, November 23, 2022,

3 Philip Alpers and Miles Lovell, Ethiopia – Gun Facts, Figures and the Law (, Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, 2022),

4 “Ammunition Management Activity Platform (A-MAP),” GICHD, 2022,

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Map of Ethiopia

Further information

Accidental explosions

Since the Small Arms Survey began collecting data in 1979, two accidental explosions have been reported in Ethiopia.

Table 1. Accidental explosions in Ethiopia (1979–2021)







Addis Ababa

State (military)




Addis Ababa




Source: “Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS) Database,” Small Arms Survey, updated December 15, 2021,

Cases of diversion

Insufficient information on cases of diversion in Ethiopia.


Insufficient information on the disposal of ammunition in Ethiopia.


To further enhance safe and secure ammunition management, the following needs have been identified for Ethiopia:

  • Development or refinement of standards and procedures on stockpile management, particularly the development of stockpile management guidelines, trainings, research and experience-sharing activities; and
  • Capacity development for the destruction of surplus stockpiles, particularly related training and assistance.

Source: Ethiopia, National Report on the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PoA) and the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) (New York: Permanent Mission of Ethiopia to the UN, 2020),

Published Date: Monday 21 of August 2023