Authority licenses 200 to fly drones after training


KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Aviation regulator has issued 200 licences to drone pilots since Kenyans were allowed to own and operate the unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) early in this year.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) Director- General Gilbert Kibe says the permits were issued after the pilots underwent training in five institutions approved by the authority.

KCAA has approved nine commercial operations for drones in categories that include mapping, filming, media, and surveillance and spraying, which the regulator says they (licences) have been the most requested.

“KCAA has so far issued slightly over 200 remote pilot licences,” said Mr Kibe yesterday.

He added that the figure was for those that have completed training and that there were others who are still undertaking the course.

The KCCA boss said though the numbers are still low, they were encouraging with more people expected to join in the coming days.

Though Kenya began drafting regulations in 2016, it did not adopt legislation enabling drone use until last year.

Kenya’s aviation regulator invited training institutions to apply for accreditation.

In many African states, regulation of drone use remains highly restrictive, grounding their potential to help leapfrog infrastructure challenges. Authorities have cited security and safety concerns.

Rwanda is a notable exception. The government has since 2016 permitted companies to harness drone technology for solutions such as transporting blood and medical supplies to remote areas.

Last year, Rwanda’s police also used drones to monitor the streets during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The low number of enrollment for drone pilot training could be attributed to high cost of training, which is beyond the reach of many ordinary Kenyans. For instance, one has to pay Sh180,000 to train with Kenya Airways for a month.