TECHNOLOGY

New drone laws retrogressive

In Summary
  • KCAA has sanctioned retrogressive regulations, making it an elitist business or hobby to get into
  • Instead of killing an industry, we should be encouraging more youth to own, manufacture, and experiment with drones 

If you went to YouTube and searched ‘Kenya drone shots’, you will find some amazing videos that show you the country from a different perspective.

Whether it is the Nairobi skyscrapers, the white sandy beaches of Diani or the sand dunes of northern Kenya, some amazing shots have been compiled by many Kenyans using drones.

There are many local films, TV shows and music videos that have also employed the use of drones in their productions, many receiving accolades from Kenyans and foreigners alike.

Drones are a new technology and as such, there are many youths who are using the machines to advance their lives in business, filmmaking, or even recreationally.

It was therefore disappointing to see the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority recently enact new regulations on drones usage and ownership. KCAA has sanctioned retrogressive regulations, making it an elitist business or hobby to get into.

To bring a drone into the country, you will have to pay an importation fee of Sh3,000 and to own one, you will be required to register it with KCAA for Sh3,000. You will also need an airworthiness certificate for it which will set you back Sh5,000.

To operate a drone, you will be required to have a Remote Operators Certificate that will be issued for Sh80,000 and whose renewal will be done at Sh50,000. Similar fees will apply for licences to those who wish to open drone training schools and those who wish to sell drones.

Other charges ranging between Sh2,000 and Sh5,000 for services and certifications such as ‘Beyond Visual line of sight’ and ‘Radiotelephone exam’ will also apply.

It does not make sense to charge tourists extra money to record things that they can share with friends and thus continue showcasing Kenya’s beauty. While a country such as South Africa has regulations similar to ours, individuals can freely fly drones except in restricted areas.

KCAA argues that the purpose of the regulations and the risk to public safety and security form the basis for consideration in registering, issuing approvals and authorisation for operations.

While all countries in the world have regulations on the operation of drones, many are careful not to impose exorbitant fees. This is because drones have different purposes that can help many do their work, especially in arts and films.

Instead of killing an industry, we should be encouraging more youth to own, manufacture, and experiment with drones to enable uptake of this new technology.

Drones have many uses across the world and are critical for the growing film and photography industry, especially in Africa. Many young photographers and filmmakers are working with drones to create some of the best productions.

Kenya has in the past and also recently been used to make some great productions in film and music — some of which have required aerial shots. Those making them have used drones to showcase the country and what it has to offer through the various scenes in movies and music videos.

The new regulations make it unattractive for foreigners to come and do their productions in Kenya because it adds to the already existing costs. Foreigners will only be able to lease a drone locally but can get a 30-day temporary permit for Sh20,000, which may be suitable for travellers.

It does not make sense to charge tourists extra money to record things that they can share with friends and thus continue showcasing Kenya’s beauty. While a country such as South Africa has regulations similar to ours, individuals can freely fly drones except in restricted areas.

While a remote operators certificate will be issued for Sh80,000, in South Africa, the cost is about Sh50,000. This could make Kenya continue losing to South Africa as a production country of choice because we have seen even Kenyan musicians go to shoot music videos there.

KCAA needs to relook at the regulations and find a way of making it easier for young people to use the technology that can help them build a future and also put the country on the global map in regards to arts and film.