Months after drone use was banned in the country, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has drafted stringent regulations that will govern the use of the technology that grew popular with modern photography and videography in the country.
The regulations particularly focus on privacy and security of persons within the country for purposes of promoting peaceful coexistence, preventing public risks, terror and criminal activities.
The rules require drone owners and operators to be certified by the authority.
The owner or operator of the aircraft fitted with cameras or other sensing equipment will be required to respect the privacy of persons and their property.
The individuals are not allowed to photograph or film any person or their property for purposes of publishing or public dissemination without consent.
But before the new rules on the use of drones and other unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) come into play they have to be approved by parliament.
“Any person conducting operations using UAS fitted with cameras or other sensing equipment shall operate them in a responsible way to respect the privacy of other persons and their property, ” the Civil Aviation (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulations, 2019, states.
Already, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Dualed has tabled the regulations for debate by members.
The new regulations, however, allow the use of the technology for mapping and evaluating the earth’s surface including terrain and surface water bodies and other features; investigation of forests and forest management; search and rescue; and other similar investigations of vegetation or wildlife.
For security purposes, the new regulations require operators to conduct background checks on all personnel recruited for deployment, handling and storage of any UAS.
They will also be required to conduct criminal record checks every 24 months on all personnel employed in the deployment, handling, and storage of UAS.
Additionally, the aircraft owners and operators will be required to prevent unauthorized access and use of the equipment.
The regulations stipulate tough guidelines on the registration, authorization and licencing of UAS owners and operators.
For instance, only Kenyans or residents, who have attained a minimum age of 18 years are allowed to own UAS.
“A person shall not transfer ownership of a UAS without the prior approval of the Authority, ” the regulations read.
“A person other than the national government shall not own, register or operate a UAS with military specifications.”
Individuals can only import UAS after obtaining written permission from the authority.
On the other hand, a person who intends to export a Kenyan registered UAS shall notify the authority in writing before obtaining a deregistration certificate.
“Any person intending to manufacture, assemble, test or sell a UAS or a component thereof shall apply for authorization from the Authority, ” it reads.
The regulations stipulate that only persons licenced by the authority will be allowed to act as remote pilots in command.
Any person who contravenes any of the regulations, KCAA recommends a fine not exceeding
two million shillings or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both.
In 2018, Parliament invalidated the proposed Remote Piloted Aircraft Systems Regulations 2017 citing privacy concerns, minimal public participation and inconsistency in the application of fines.