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Kenyans vent over new drone laws

Kenya , 08 Mar 2018

Kenyans vent over new drone laws

Kenyans have criticised the new drone licensing regulation issued by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), describing it as costly, a hindrance to innovation and out of reach for the majority of smaller operators.

The regulations, published in December 2017, cover the process of obtaining a license as as well as drone importation and registration. It splits licensing into three categories: sports and recreation, private and commercial use.

For all categories, a temporary permit of US$1,500 will apply. Users who modify their gadgets to suit other purposes will have to pay US$2,000.

Pilots who operate the gadgets will also have to pay up US$200 for a Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) license, and will be charged the same amount for license renewal.

Most notably, would-be drone owners will have to write to the Ministry of Defence to seek approval to import and operate devices.

Larger operators have welcomed the development which effectively ensures that they have all the required licenses to operate the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

However, the regulation will impact heavily on innovators and start-ups.

The most common use of drones in Kenya is for video production and photography, primarily by smaller operators.

Kenyans took to social media to express their feelings on the matter:

@PolycarpHinga Waziri @JamesMacharia_ A good videography drone costs between 75,000 and 150,000. Why then would it cost over a million bob just to fly it in Kenya? Not only are these costs crazy and outrageous, they will also get in the way of vloggers showcasing the #MagicalKenya.

@MacMaruvu Before filming with drones became popular, young Kenyan engineers have been trying to develop their own drones only to be met by barriers. Not only consumers struggle but potential manufacturing will never be supported.

@K_mountainous It is only a matter of time before simple hobby drones become as cheap and ubiquitous as mobile phones. Such high costs will just drive the market underground which is even more risky

@SomeOtherLevel FYI, it costs just about 5k to renew a Commercial Pilot License to fly aircraft worth billions. Why is it 40k to get a commercial drone (RPAS) pilot license.

@anthonykitema This is ridiculous. It's free to fly drones anywhere in South Korea with the exception of military zones & CBD despite high security risk of North Korea. #UshenziKE #CorruptKenya

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