Commercial Drone Users In Kenya Fly Into Security Huddles

Written by Kevin Mwanza

According to a report by Quartz, Fear of terrorist attacks has made Kenyan authorities wary of the use of drone technology for commercial purposes in the country and has put local innovations of these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in limbo.

The east African nation has place a blanket ban on production and use of UAVs  over what it termed as security concerns.

The country is facing increased terrorist threat from Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab militants from neighbouring Somalia who in recent attack killed 148 people in a university attack. The attacks started in 2011 after the Kenyan army joined other African Union forces in stabilizing war-torn Somalia.

“One of the things that has now arisen is that the Kenya Government have put a ban in place on private sector drones for the time being,” Robert Breare, chief commercial officer at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy that was planning to use drone in protecting wildlife from poachers, said in a statement.

Ol Pejeta was planning to launch the drone in June after successfully testing a model drone by the US based manufacturer Airware, Daily Nation reported. The drone would have also been used to launch the first virtual tourism in Kenya.

“We will be working closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service to identify the way forward for our conservation drone but in the meantime we ask you to continue your incredible patience as we work to bring this project to fruition” Breare said.

Drone operations in Kenya have mostly been used for military purposes, particularly to attack Al Shabab bases in Somalia, but this is slowly shifting to commercial use such as security surveillance within posh homes, wildlife sanctuaries and manning large industrial firms.

The drone-regulation that requires potential UAV users to get a permit from the defence ministry in a lengthy process that costs about $1,000 in fees, also affected project by three university students to launch an aerial video advertisement drone targeting Kenya’s fast growing real estate sector.

The project dubbed Adriana Pro Films, would charge $500 for a single job to take aerial videos of leafy apartments and luxury hotels across Nairobi using a remote controlled helicopter.