A Look Into Drone Regulations In Kenya Compared to Rwanda

A drone equipped with a loud speaker in Rwanda t spread Covid-19 messages. [PHOTO/ COURTESY]


Rwanda is using drones equipped with loudspeakers to broadcast coronavirus news and messages in rural areas. Using the drones, they will also monitor if the rules are being obeyed and for a while now, they have been used in medical supply.

In November 2019, the KCAA (Kenya Civil Aviation Authority) banned the use of drones in Kenya. At the time, anyone caught flouting the ban would be jailed for up to one year or pay a fine of up to Ksh100,000. Recently, the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Authority relaxed the rules on the ban.

According to the group, the production, assembly, testing, modifications, sale and purchase of drones can now be done subject to approval by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.

In order to own a drone, you must be 18 years and above and have a registered company in Kenya.  You must also seek the KCAA’s approval before you transfer ownership of the drone. If you intend to use a drone, you should also seek a temporary permit lasting up to one month which can only be renewed once.

Read: Aviation Authority Prohibits Use Of Drones, Warns Of Sh100,000 Fine

Prospective commercial users also have to obtain a Remote Aircraft Operator’s certificate (ROC) from KCAA. The importation and exportation of the drones can only be done subject to the regulator’s approval.

National or county governments can also own drones but only the national government can make use of drones with military specs.

The lift comes in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic where countries like Rwanda are using drones to deal effectively with the pandemic.  In Rwanda, one must be a citizen of above 21 years to own, fly and register a drone. Foreigners can get a sponsor or register through a citizen. All drones must be insured and marked with a number provided by the RCAA (Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority).

Read: How Corrupt KRA and KCAA Staff Sell Drones Confiscated from Travellers at JKIA

There are also laws set up to govern the use of the drones. For starters, they can only be flown during the day. They can only weigh up 25Kgs and cannot be flown within 10 kilometres to any airport or field, or 50 metres to people, buildings, vehicles, ships and animals. The maximum altitude for flying a drone is 100 metres above ground and the distance between pilot and drone should be at a maximum of 300 metres and direct visual contact should be ensured.

In Kenya, drones were initially approved in March 2019 but later annulled in November 2019 due to a lack of public participation.

According to a leading drone training, news and education company, UAV, countries that place bans on drones probably do not understand the technology or want to control access of information by the public.

While many netizens applaud Rwanda’s use of drones to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, many raised their disapproval on how the Kenyan government has handled their regulation.

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Written by Vanessa Murrey

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