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It is still illegal to operate drones in Kenyan airspace

Tuesday August 28 2018
drone

A drone used for filming. Kenya is set to ban the use of drone in the country until parliament ratifies the drone regulations. FILE PHOTO | NMG

By ALLAN OLINGO

Kenya is set to ban the use of drone in the country until parliament ratifies the drone regulations that will guide their importation and use.

This is a potential setback for the use of the remotely controlled aircraft for humanitarian, health and wildlife conservation.

In June, Kenyan MPs refused to ratify the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Regulations, 2017 raising concerns regarding their safety.

Within Africa, only Rwanda and South Africa have laws allowing the exploration of drones for social and economic use.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority director general Gilbert Kibe told The EastAfrican that Karanja Kibicho, the Principal Secretary for the Interior ministry, will soon issue a gazette notice banning the use of drones in the country until the regulations are in place.

“Any drones operating now are doing so illegally and unlawfully. This week, we will see a communication from the Interior PS against this activity. We are unhappy but it is also better to ensure public safety. The timeframe for us to resolve this and get the regulations validated by parliament is at most 45 days,” Capt Kibe said.

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“My primary concern is safety, particularly around airports and aircraft. Regulations are needed and we are working alongside the multi-agency team that created those regulations. We will meet next week to discuss parliament’s concerns. We will then meet the legislators and present our case on the need for a regulatory framework,” he added.

In March, KCAA gazetted drone regulations that will, among other things, establish a drone registry to control the ownership and use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

“We will ensure all drone operators register with us in order to license them to fly. We need to know how many drones are in the country, their purpose and the identify of their operators for accountability purposes,” Capt Kibe said.

Once the regulations are gazetted and ratified, individual Kenyans can then acquire drones for sports, private activities and commerce. It will also allow importation of drones after paying the requisite fee to KCAA.

“Currently, anyone found manufacturing or assembling drones without our clearance faces a $20,000 fine or six months in jail,” Mr Kibe said.

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