Kenya: It's a Year in Jail or U.S.$1000 Fine for Flying Drones in Kenya

Photo: Zipline
(file photo).
7 November 2019

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has banned flying of drones in Kenya. The agency warned that anyone caught flouting the ban will either be jailed for up to a year or fined a up to Sh100,000.

In a notice published in the Daily Nation, the aviation regulator cited a legal notice 76 signed in March 26, 2019 on the prohibition of drones.

"Operation of such drones by the public for video coverage, film making, surveillance, and any other interference with Kenyan airspace," is prohibited, the notice signed by KCAA Director General Captain Gilbert Kibe states in part.

"Any person who contravenes the provisions of paragraph (1) commits an offence and shall be liable, upon convictions, to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand shillings or imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or to both such fine and imprisonment."

The government is, however, not affected by the new directive.

The law is part of the Civil Aviation Act of 2013 which states that unmanned aircraft are not allowed to operate either on land or Kenya's territorial waters.

Stakeholders have complained that it has taken long for the regulations to be adopted and the move has hurt those who were ready to start using the technology locally.

KCAA published the drone regulations in 2018, legalising use of the remotely controlled aircraft but Parliament had to ratify them before taking effect.

Approval by MPs would have allowed Kenyans to acquire drones for sports, film shooting, relief services and commercial purposes.

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 insufficient public participation in drafting the regulations, in violation of the Constitution.

It also felt that 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.

"The penalty imposed by regulation 56 of Sh5 million or six-month imprisonment, or both, contravenes Section 82 (4) of the Civil Aviation Act, which allows for the imposition of a fine not exceeding Sh2 million or three years imprisonment," committee chairperson Gladys Shollei said in a report tabled in Parliament last year.

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