Coups, like other concepts in political science, does not have a universally accepted definition though there is a general agreement on it.
The generally agreed definition is that a coup is an illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting head of executive (head of state or head of government) and then holding power for at least seven days.
Coups may replace the regime or replace the rule. In Successful coups, the perpetrators yield power for at least seven days and anything below that is categorized as a failed coup or an attempt to coup.
In Africa, since 1952, only seven years have had no coups. This is 1953, 1957, 1958, 1988, 2008, 2016 and 2018. All the other years have had coups.
45 countries have had attempted coups but only in 36 countries have had successful coups of over seven days.
Since the inception of independence in Africa in the 1950’s, over 200 coup attempts have occurred with over 170 coups being successful.
Since 2017, in eighteen coup attempts, seventeen have happened in Africa and only one in Myanmar.
Whereas Burkina Fuso has had the highest nine successful coups out of ten coup attempts with one failing, Sudan has had the highest sixteen coup attempts with only six successful. Ghana and sierra Leone have ten coup attempts, Guinea Bissau nine, Benin, Niger, Nigeria with eight although Nigeria last had a coup in 1993, Burundi with eleven coup attempts and other countries.
Why does Africa have the highest coups attempts than any other?
Whereas popular mass movements and uprisings are in most countries constitutionally legal and legitimate as well as people centered, the final decision on the success of a coup is determined by the decisions of the military.
Countries with high rates of poverty and poor governance as well as long-serving leaders are high risk to coups like it was in Sudan. In the end, popular uprisings and protests against the long serving leaders, civil conflicts and civil wars have induced an opportunity for the coups to return back to Africa. Sudan is a good example as the public rose to protest against a long serving General Omar Bashir who had been in power up to 2019 since 1989 after unseating another government.
Countries with high perceived insecurity resulting from terrorism and insurgencies with leaders who who lack both military and citizens legitimacy have been apt to coups and such factors are cohabited in the Sahel region thus the nurture and nature of coups. Niger, Burkina Fuso and Mali are typical examples.
Most African countries that experienced many coup attempts are poor with low gross domestic product. Sudan in 2019 had USD 21 billion, Niger USD 15 billion, Mali with USD 20 billion and other countries.
Disloyalty of the military to the executive and either way has also threatened and caused coups e.g. in Niger, Burkina Fuso and most of the Sahel region. Whereas some executives have bought military loyarity through huge military expenditure, there is positive relationship that huge military spending governments have not experienced coups.
Disloyalty mostly occur when the military and political elites hold fundamental diametrically opposed opinions about the internal insecurity like insurgencies, popular mass uprisings and terrorist attacks facing the country. Thus, the military who casually have less motivations to uphold loyalty than the head of executive suspects, decide otherwise.
Other causes of coups included international interference and others.