Kenya becomes the second country in the region to, after Rwanda, to embrace the commercial use of Aerial Unmanned Vehicles (AUVs), aka drones. Non-military use of drones had been restricted in the country due to lack of a legal framework. The aviation regulator, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), says the approval was made last week on Monday after the agency met with the top security organs to discuss draft regulations.
“The policy procedures and regulations for remotely piloted aircraft systems, better known as the drones, have been approved,” said Mr Gilbert Kibe, KCAA Director General. He went ahead to say the gazette legal notice together with an Aeronautical Information Circular will be published as soon as official notification from the meeting is received. After gazetting, drones operations will be allowed in Kenya.
According to Business Daily Africa, Astral Aviation, a Kenyan-based logistics firm, already has plans in place to open a drone airport at Kapese Airstrip in Lokichar as it moves to tap proceeds from oil exploration in the region. The facility is said to be the first in Africa and will be ready by February next year (2018).
“We are going to open the Drone Airport in Kapese as we target to offer logistics solutions to oil drilling firms in Lokichar and we are happy that the approval on regulations have been made,” said Mr Sanjeev Gadhia – chief executive officer, Astral Aviation.
By August last year, at least 1,000 applicants were seeking regulatory approvals to operate drone-based transport services in Kenya, hinting to high demand for the robotic aircraft. Firms want to use the drones for film shooting, relief services and other commercial purposes, according to the regulator. The proposed regulations require commercial drone owners to have security clearance from the Ministry of Defence and have trained pilots. Civilians are limited to flying drones at a height of not more than 400 feet (121.9 metres). Failure to follow all the rules will attract a maximum of KSh.500,000 in fines or a jail term of not more than three months. You can view the entire regulations here