Importing, owning, and flying a drones is now legal in Kenya—as long as users operate within the regulations set by civil aviation authority based on the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Regulations, 2017, which was promulgated on October 6, 2017.
KCAA director general Gilbert Kibe said the operators of the remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems are also required to observe the regulations guiding their use. The laws state that Kenyans are allowed to acquire drones for sports, private activities, and commercial purposes.
According to Kibe, those who already imported drones before the commencement of the KCAA regulations have been given six months to apply for registration from the agency. An applicant to operate a drone in the country is however expected to meet all requirements and demonstrate general knowledge, flight performance and navigation skills to be allowed to acquire one.
Anyone found manufacturing or assembling drones without KCAA’s clearance will be fined Sh2 million or spend six months in jail, with the same punishment applying to those found with drones having military specifications.
However, Kibe said the regulations do not apply to state aircraft, hot air balloons, airships and toys. “Provided that no toy shall be operated within an aerodrome and not less than 500 meters from the aerodrome boundaries, in and around strategic installations, radar sites, high tension cables and communication masts, prisons, police stations, courts of law and scenes of crime,” he said.
KCAA revealed that tech giant Google and taxi-hailing service Uber have already applied for licences to operate drones in Kenya, with Kenya Red Cross to get the greenlight to use them in emergency rescue.
Popularity of drones has grown over the years and they are mainly used by media in particular areas and their popularity is also expected to grow in the music video production industry.
In Kenya, as drones grew in popularity among hobbyists and tech entrepreneurs excited about their potential applications for aid relief, agricultural surveys, and e-commerce, regulators put in place vague restrictions that effectively served as a ban.