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Is Flying A Drone Really Illegal In Kenya? Netizens React

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Picture of a drone [Image | Courtesy]

A light research on Google will show that flying a drone in Kenya is illegal. “According to Kenya’s national aviation authority, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), drones are banned in Kenya” UAVCoach.com, a website for everything drones from training to news reads.

Prohibiting the use of the remotely controlled aircrafts, KCAA has now issued a stern warning to anybody who might be thinking of flying a drone in the countries airspace, if caught persons will now risk a fine of Sh100,000 or a year in prison.

There has never been ‘Law’ in Kenya concerning drone usage, does that mean it’s illegal? When something is not legislated, is it illegal?

The country came close to legalising drone usage back in 2017/18 when KCAA published the drone regulations, -this were rules which outlined guidelines to be taken into consideration in the use of the remotely controlled aircrafts- but awaited Parliament to ratify them before taking effect.

Evidently, the house annulled the Kenya Civil Aviation (Remote Piloted Aircraft Systems Regulations, 2017) after finding ‘fault’ with several provisions. Reading through the regulations I can tell you nothing proposed on there was thinking about the young and ambitious young Kenyan who wants to get into photography and videography anyway.

In March this year, KCAA published a revised set of regulations which were again annulled by Parliament. Hundreds of drones have since been confiscated at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after being imported.

Fees

Operating a drone in Kenya under the proposed regulations would have seen Kenyans part with huge chunks of money to get permits for the aircrafts, for instance, KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe had said users would be charged registration and licence fees which varied between $600 (Sh60,000) and $2,300 (Sh232,000) depending on the purpose of use, that was maybe, just maybe reasonable, however, a quick look at social media shows that some Kenyans who have tried bringing in drones were being asked to cough upto Ksh 1 million for permits.

“Mine was impounded at Customs. A very small one which cost me $200 but govt needs a license worth $10,000. Now i am sure someone has taken it home.” Another Twitter user @ClayNgambwa Writes.

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This then raises the one question, how many people who can afford these hefty permits actually own them? Is flying a drone in Kenya illegal or is it a privilege?

Taking to popular social media app Twitter, Kenyans have voiced their concerns over the limitations young photographers and videographers are facing in the country.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) can be put to various uses in the country, from photography to filming to surveying and 3D mapping. Young Kenyans using them vary from small time photography enthusiasts, professional pilots, to engineers building their own airframes and navigation systems from scratch.

The tight squeeze on young creatives necks in the country needs to stop. In a country where redundancies are now a norm, threats of hefty fines and imprisonment is far from the solution, write up regulations and draw up reasonable permits. The Mpigs should do their job for once. Young people should have a place to seek refuge, let people create their own jobs in this already growing ‘smart’ era.

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