By David Onjili
The 2020 Civil Aviation (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulatory Act was approved by the Kenyan Parliament in March, finally allowing Kenyans to purchase and operate drones legally. This is a major victory for photographers, videographers, businesses, medical suppliers and even those interested in mapping. The act stipulates a criteria which individuals and businesses have to fulfil in order to own and use drones within Kenya.
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The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) is mandated with issuing and monitoring the use of Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles. Before issuing a certificate, KCAA will ensure that the applicant’s need for license does not pose a risk to national security, risk to public safety and interest and whether the applying individual is subject to administrative investigations.
Any adult citizen or resident or any body-corporate and both the national and county governments are eligible to apply for ownership and operation of drones.
The KCAA prohibits any individual other than the national government from owning, operating or registering a drone with military specifications. Any of the above listed persons eligible to own and operate a drone within Kenya cannot transfer the ownership to another party without the approval of the body. The manufacture, assembly, modification, testing, selling or dealing with drones will also require authorization by the authority.
Operating a drone for commercial purposes or hiring will need the obtaining of a Remote Aircraft Operations Certificate (ROC). To qualify for a ROC certificate, the applicant must prove the significant existence of their organization and show the method of control and supervision of drone operations. An operator is required to apply for the initial issue of the ROC 90 days before the date of the intended use.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown just how crucial unmanned aircraft are for business continuity. Hospitals will benefit greatly, like Zipline is doing in Rwanda to supply medical supplies in a timely manner even to remote areas. Fast delivery will help save lives in cases of emergency where a hospital may need blood for immediate transfusion and road transport may delay due to traffic gridlocks or inaccessibility of certain areas.
The use of drones for photography and mapping will also enhance the quality of image shots captured of various scenic places in the country. This may open up the nation to areas previously unknown to many. This is a good move, and techpreneurs will hopefully capitalize to create much-needed jobs. (