Kenya’s drone regulations approved

In January I wrote on the impact of technology in Africa in which I delved deeply into Kenya’s global outlook as a technology hub. One of the issues I touched on was the impact of drone-tech in inaccessible areas looking at the success of Zipline in Rwanda. Recent developments from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (the KCAA) are that the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Regulations (the drone regulations) have been approved enabling drone-tech firms to operate the technology. What started out in the military to increase surveillance and hit enemy targets has crossed over to wildlife conservation, film production, delivery of goods in neighborhoods, relief services, oil and gas exploration as well as recreation.

The KCAA approved the drone regulations on Monday 6th February after the authority met with the Executive Arm. An official Kenya Gazette together with an Aeronautical Information Circular will be published as soon as notice from the meeting is received. The regulations classify drones as recreational, private and commercial.

Weight, height and time

With the exception of the military, drones are not permitted in areas designated by the KCAA as restricted. Those that weigh between 0-5 kilograms are categorized for recreation or sports only. Those weighing between 5-25 kilograms will be for private activities. Those weighing more than 25 kilograms will be used for commercial purposes.

The regulations provide that a drone used for recreational or private purposes should not fly at more than 400 feet above the ground. Drone operators (who will require KCAA approval) are also barred from flying them at night.

Flying cross-borders

The regulations also require an operator starting a flight in Kenya and landing it any other territory to seek KCAA approval beforehand. The same applies to those who start flying in other countries and want to land in Kenya.