More drones to take to Kenyan skies as import permit charges slashed


KCAA says it has started receiving application for those who want permits and registration of the drones. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Importation permit costs for drones have significantly dropped in the new charges released by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), a move that will make it affordable for Kenyans to own the gadgets.

A person wishing to bring in a drone will pay Sh3,000 ($30) to be issued with import permit, which is down from Sh20,000 ($200) that had been proposed in the previous regulations that were shot down by parliament.

This comes even as stakeholders have started giving views on the proposed charges following the approval by parliament and the gazettement of regulations as the country moves closer to adopting the drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

KCAA says they have started receiving application for those who want permits and registration of the drones.

KCAA director general Gilbert Kibe told Shipping and Logistics that they are inviting applicants basing on the drone category they want to buy in order to avoid congestion in the skies.

“We are now at the final stages and we have called for applicants to apply for permits basing on categories,” said Mr Kibe.

He said some of the categories that people have applied for include recreation, filming, media and photography.

After the public have given their views on the charges, it will be adopted and then given to the Transport secretary for approval.

Some of the stakeholders who spoke to Shipping and Logistics said they are satisfied with the proposed charges as they are much more affordable than the earlier ones.

“The charges are so reasonable for us and I do not think that there would be a problem for others not to accept them, especially when you compare what has been proposed now and what we had in the previous regulations,” said one of the stakeholders who did not want to be named at this point.

The charges for registration of drones under the draft proposals have also dropped from Sh20,000 to Sh3,000.

Unlike in the previous proposal, KCAA has not issued different fees for different categories. Previously, drones meant for commercial recreational purposes would attract lower charges than those meant for commercial use.

The National Assembly annulled the Kenya Civil Aviation (Remote Piloted Aircraft Systems Regulations, 2017) after finding fault with several provisions.

The committee on Delegated Legislation pointed out that there was less public participation in drafting the regulations, in violation of the Constitution. It also pointed out that the proposed set of rules fell short of addressing issues that had been raised around safety, security, and breached personal privacy by drones in civilian hands under the Bill of Rights.

Before the regulations were gazetted, it remained illegal to import drones in the country with exception only given to military.

Hundreds of drones have so far been confiscated at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as they were being imported at the time when there is no legal framework on drones in the country.

But KCAA said they would be releasing them to the owners once everything has been finalised and are ready to register and issue importation permit.

Stakeholders have complaint that it has taken long for the regulations to be adopted saying the move has hurt some of them who were ready to start using the equipment locally for different activities.

Some countries in Africa such as Ghana, Rwanda and South Africa have fully adopted the use of drones in the different field of their economy.

In Kenya, experts have called for deployment of superior technologies such as drones to combat locust menace that is now threatening food security in the country.

This was after Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said that it had become difficult to eliminate the locusts given that they leave eggs when flying to other regions.