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Technology

Drones draft rules ready, awaiting House approval

Gilbert Kibe
KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has completed work on drones draft regulations and the agency is expected to seek approval from parliament next month when it resumes from recess.

The regulator will be making the second attempt after the August House thwarted previous regulations, saying they did not comply with the constitution. The move slowed down the adoption of the drones also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe said they have finished compiling the views presented by the public after holding a number of public forums on the regulations.

“We have finished compiling the views from the public and we are waiting for parliament to resume in February then we present them to the committee on Delegated Legislation for approval,” he said.

Mr Kibe said they have done what was required of them and expressed optimism that they will be approved this time round, giving Kenyans a chance to legally use them in the country.

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At the moment it is only the military that is allowed to operate drones.

Last year November, KCAA warned the public against violating the drone rules by using them when they have not been licensed.

“The public is hereby reminded of this prohibition (use of UAVs) which shall apply to any person who imports, tests, operates… a remotely piloted aircraft (drones)…” said the regulator.

“The prohibition follows the annulment by parliament of the regulations previously published by KCAA on March 21,” added KCAA.

So far, hundreds of drones have been confiscated at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as they are being imported at the time when there is no legal framework on drones in the country.

After the approval by the parliament, the regulations will then be forwarded to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport so that it can be promulgated, paving the way for commercialisation of drones in the country.

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

KCAA published the drone regulations in 2018 that legalised use of the remotely controlled aircraft but awaited Parliament to ratify them before taking effect.

The House, however, 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 felt the proposed set of rules fell short of addressing issues that had been raised around safety, security and breach of personal privacy by drones in civilian hands under the Bill of Rights. Additionally, the lawmakers pointed out inconsistencies in application of fines.

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