KCAA has brought our new regulations which are making it hard for Kenya’s civilian drone operators to fly freely.

According to the new regulations published last year after consultations between the Ministry of Transport, Department of Defence, Kenya Police and the NIS, the operators who include those who are flying the drones to get permits and register them at very high fees.

Each of the categories of drones (Sports and Recreational, Private and Commercial) will be attract a drone import permit fees of Ksh 20,000 ($200) for each drone while registration will cost a further Ksh 20,000 for sports and Recreational, Ksh 30,000 ($300) for Private and Ksh 50,000 ($500) for Commercial drones.

Taking the Kenya registered drones out of the country without approval will also attract a fine while the importation of drones with military specs will attract charges of up to two million shillings or a jail term not exceeding six months or both.

Some of the illegal activities like flying drones near sensitive installations (military, prisons, public gatherings) without approvals will also attract hefty penalties.

While the Above Kenya drone community group is not against the regulation of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or drones in Kenya, they are against the vague and cumbersome procedures which are just going to make the illegal use more common than legal use.

In most of the developed countries, use of drone is regulated but Sports and Recreational drones attract the least regulations with most of the countries only requiring users to register them with the authorities on import or during purchase. It is laughable that Kenyan government is demanding as much as Ksh 50,000 to import and register a drone which you can purchase from a supermarket shelf at Ksh 10,000.

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The drone users community under the Above Kenya group have tried to self-regulate by forming a user group, drawing up best use practices and engaging stakeholders but the fact that most of the KCAA top managers are only experienced in aircraft and not drone usage has made the engagement difficult.

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Today, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority is using warnings to have users register drones through the body as the stiff penalties and cumbersome procedures have kept most users away. The warnings published in the local dailies are only attract jeers from the local drone users.

 

Activist Boniface Mwangi has told the regulator that these regulations would completely kill the film industry which is still in its infancy.

While the users watch and activists complain, KCAA remains ignorant of the implications of its demands including the one requiring recreational users to get approval from the military.

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All drone registrations needs to be centralised and civilian activities should be regulated through the civilian authorities and not the military. Making such processes cumbersome will only make it easy to use the illegal routes.

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