Drones Are Officially Legal In Kenya

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drones legal in Kenya
image: Capital FM

The Civil Aviation (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulations, 2019 Act has been approved, which means Kenyans have won the legal right to own and operate drones. Previously it was technically illegal for anyone but the military to have a drone in the country.

This win helps businesses and individuals who require the devices for photography or content creation, mapping or rescue missions among other things. For a long time, the law derailed drone programs from major players including Facebook, Uber Google, and the Kenya Red Cross. There has been an extensive history of getting drones approved for public use.

In 2016, drone enthusiasts insisted on a licensing system so they could use them in the country. This was easily granted, and in February 2017, Kenya became the second African country after Rwanda to approve the use of non-military drones. Regardless, the rules were still relatively strict, limiting the times and even models that could be flown.

Things took a turn in June 2018 when the Kenyan Parliament invalidated drone regulations from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA). Flying a drone became punishable by a prison sentence of up to 12 months. These were due to several concerns, including a lack of public participation, insufficient attention to personal privacy, and inconsistencies in the application of fines.

However, in 2019 progress was made when Parliament considered revised rules, that have since been approved on the 30th of March 2020.

In determining whether to register a drone or issue any authorization licence, the Authority shall consider the following:

  • The national security of Kenya,
  • Terrorism or organized criminal activities;
  • Preservation of regional peace, security and stability;
  • Risk of diversion of UAS to unauthorized end user or end
    use;
  • Risk to public safety;
  • If applicant is subject of investigations in ongoing criminal
    or civil proceedings related to national security; or
  • If applicant is subject to administrative investigations by the
    Authority.

A person shall be eligible to own a drone if that person is –

  • A Kenyan Citizen or resident in Kenya of minimum age of
    eighteen years;
  • A company registered in Kenya: or
  • The national government or County government

A certificate issued by the Authority shall be valid for 12 months.

Exporting and Importing 

  • A person shall not import a drone or a component thereof without a permit issued by the Authority. Before issuing a permit , the Authority shall seek and obtain the necessary security clearance and approval from the Ministry for the time being responsible for matters relating to defense.
  • A person who intends to export a Kenyan registered drone shall notify the Authority in writing and obtain a deregistration certificate.