Shipping & Logistics

Plan to own a drone in Kenya? Here is what you need to do

drone

A remote-controlled drone (unmanned aerial vehicle). AFP

Summary

  • The authority has been given the go-ahead to operationalise the Civil Aviation (Regulatory Fees and Charges for Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulations 2020.
  • Under the new rules, to bring a drone into the country you will have to pay an importation fee of Sh3,000.
  • You will also be required to register with KCAA for the same amount.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) will from March 15 this year start charging fee for owning and operating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) popularly known as a drone after Unmanned Aircraft Systems Regulations 2020 took effect.

The authority has been given the go-ahead to operationalise the Civil Aviation (Regulatory Fees and Charges for Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Regulations 2020.

Under the new rules, to bring a drone into the country you will have to pay an importation fee of Sh3,000. You will also be required to register with KCAA for the same amount.

To operate a drone in the Kenyan Airspace, you will also be required to have a Remote Operators Certificate which will be issued for Sh80,000 every year and whose renewal will be done at Sh50,000.

Similar fees will apply for licences to those who wish to open drone training schools and those who wish to sell drones.

In Kenya, only citizens, residents, businesses and governments are eligible to own a drone. Foreigners will only be able to lease a drone locally. However, the law also provides for a 30-day temporary permit that may be suitable for travellers. To get such a permit, you will part with Sh20,000.

You will also need an airworthiness certificate that costs $50 (about Sh5000) while other charges ranging between Sh2,000 and Sh5,000 for services and certifications such as "Beyond Visual line of sight" and "Radio telephone exam" will also apply.

The KCAA has received the approval to operationalise the new rules after they were approved by the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Transport James Macharia under legal Notice No.4 of 2021 on 22 January 2021.

The approval of the regulations paved the way for full implementation of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) regulatory framework in Kenya.

The charges for owning the drones are a reduction from the rates that was revoked under the Kenya Civil Aviation (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) Regulations 2017.

KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe said the gazettement of the regulations heralds a new era in the country's aviation ecosystem by opening up the sector to innovations.

"Innovations in UAS has been accelerating at such an exponential rate. The capabilities of this technology are limitless — such as filming movies, documentaries, sports, wedding and delivering medicines," said Mr Kibe.

Individuals or entities that have already imported UAS are encouraged to apply to the KCAA for registration and approval to lawfully engage in safe and secure drone operations of all types, including precision agriculture, wildlife management, inspection of power grid, building, dams, solar inspection, research, crop spraying and data collection, forest management, road traffic monitoring and surveillance and aerial mapping.

The CAA (UAS) Regulations 2020 categorises drones based on the risks posed by their operations from low risks to high risks under categories A, B and C.

The purpose of the UAS and the risk to public safety and security form the basis for consideration by the Authority in registering, issuing of approvals and authorisation for operations.

In the era where privacy of person and property is central, the regulations have made provisions that ensure such discretion is respected as provided in the Constitution and other national laws. Additionally, KCAA will be undertaking public awareness on the application and implementation of the regulations.