A longer wait for drone users in Kenya

Kenyans who wish to fly drones will have to wait longer after a Gazette noticed was issued in regards to the use of thee Aerial Unmanned Vehicles (AUVs). The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), the state corporation with the responsibility of regulating the aviation industry and providing air navigation services in the Kenya flight region, pronounced that it was waiting for the Attorney General to consent directives granted to the State Law Offices after draft regulations on the use of drones were approved by the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) in January.

“The draft regulations have received approval by the Cabinet Secretary — Ministry of Transport, and await formal promulgation at the Attorney General’s Office,”Gilbert Kibe, the director-general off KCAA said. President Uhuru Kenyatta chairs the NSAC, which is composed of the entire security general including the Kenya Police Service and the Kenya Defense Forces.

Drones are in high demand in Kenya, where more than 1,000 applicants are seeking consent on the use of the robotic aircraft in various transport services. The KCAA is banking on the potential of drones to enhance innovation, employment and delivery of services in Kenya. The regulator asserted that various companies have shown interest in the robotic aircraft, which would be convenient for relief services, film shooting, and other commercial purposes.

The country, however, does not have a suitable use of the use of drones for non-military purposes thus the restriction of their use. The regulations, however, require that those intending to own and use the drones for commercial purposes have security licenses from the Ministry of Defense, with trained pilots among other requirements.

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Drones have been used in various capacities all over the world with the most common ones being in the shooting of music and films, military and relief use. Their applications have increased significantly varying from security surveillance, sporting (drone racing), fishing, hunting, and in product delivery. Amazon, one of the world’s biggest retailers, has made clear its ambitions in using them to ship products to customers. The unmanned aircraft have also been used for extreme activities such as drug smuggling.

Mr. Kibe, speaking during a conference on the drones on Tuesday in Nairobi said that it is necessary to put in place criteria to train and test the use of drones such that their use does not cause any security and safety risks. Due to lack of adequate personnel, Kenya will hire foreign pilots to operate the vehicles. Civilians, however, must not fly the vehicles beyond 400 feet and failure to adhere to the regulations, as the proposed laws state, may attract a jail term not exceeding three months or a maximum fine of Ksh. 500,000.

Gathoni Kuria

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