Drones have become the hottest new thing in Kenyan skies. Last year was the year of the drones, causing widespread media interest, commercial interests and an increasing community of hobbyists in the country.
Basically, a Drone, formally known as a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) is defined as an unmanned aircraft which is remotely controlled or can fly autonomously through software embedded flight plans with the aid of GPS (Global Positioning Systems)
“I believe Drones can play a big role in the security of this Nation”
The use of drones/UAVs has commonly been associated with the military but drones can also be used for surveillance, photography among other things.
As technology becomes cheaper, powerful and more accessible, the interest for acquiring drones is rapidly increasing. For example, The Dji Phantom, the most popular and consumer friendly sells for around 1000 US Dollars online. Other popular drones like the Quanum Nova and the AR Drone sell for as low as 400 USD and 300 USD respectively.
Most recently, the UAVs have come into consideration for a number of commercial and recreational uses. Drones are starting to make a regular appearance at elite events like weddings, parties and other public gatherings in the country. Drones are slowly being endorsed as the best devices to capture some extra-ordinary candid moments and to give the montage a cinematic effect.
In aerial photography and filming, the use of UAVs has several benefits including safety, zero carbon emissions, reduced interference, maneuverability, convenient set up and so on.
Drones can also be used for protecting wildlife and for search and rescue. An Injured victim of a car accident in Saskatchewan, Canada, in May 2013 was saved by a search and rescue drone after a ground search and an air ambulance helicopter had failed to find him.
In South Africa’s Hluluhwe-imfolozi Park, poaching incidents have reduced by 92 percent after the introduction of drone surveillance in the park.
The most pressing questions that arise from UAV use aren’t typically concerned with what they can do or how people are using them, rather what they mean to our privacy.
There is increasing debate on the legality of drones in Kenya and whether or not they should be banned from private use. There is currently no law in Kenya prohibiting the use of UAVs in Kenya hence many people argue that their use should not be criminalized or penalized.
“It is true that we don’t have regulations. So the authority is not licensing any drones at the moment. In fact, any drone or small aircraft seen at public functions is being operated illegally”
However, this is not the case as an Austrian tourist was recently arrested at the Amboseli National Park for using his personal drone to take pictures The tourist was fined 50,000 Kenya shillings, after he plead guilty to the charges brought against him.
“It is true that we don’t have regulations. So the authority is not licensing any drones at the moment. In fact, any drone or small aircraft seen at public functions is being operated illegally,” Communications Manager of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), Mutia Mwandikwa tells the Daily Nation
“Since there is a security dimension to the use of drones, we will have to involve the military and the Department of Defence. The Communication Authority of Kenya will also be involved as radio frequencies are used to control the drone” he said
Recently, the Government through the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) issued a notice on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the country
The notice issued in March this year reads as follows:
The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has noted with concern the proliferation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) in the Kenyan Airspace that are operated by various entities or individuals.
It should be noted that operation of all aircraft within the Kenya airspace or at any point in Kenya is subject to regulatory approval and/or authorizations by the Kenya CivilAviation Authority.
It is hereby notied that, with immediate e‑ect all institutions/entities or individuals intending to procure, test or operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft must:
Seek approval from the Ministry of Defense.
Obtain authorization from Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.
Request for approval shall be sent to the following address:
The Principal Secretary
Ministry of Defense
P.O. Box 40666-00100
Applications for authorizations shall be sent to the following address:
The Director General
Kenya Civil Aviation Authority
P.O. Box 30163-00100
It should be noted that authorizations to operate remotely piloted aircraft will only be considered by the Authority following approvals by the Ministry of Defense.
Joseph K. Chebungei
Ag. DIRECTOR GENERAL
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