Security fears are holding back drones in Africa: Dickens Olewe, BBC News

Posted By dickens on Nov 2, 2016 | 0 comments

A Swiss university drew up plans for a futuristic drone delivery project called Flying Donkey about three years ago. The vision, just like the drone delivery project in Rwanda, was to operate fixed-wing drones in northern Kenya, to supplement postal services.

The project did not take off because the authorities saw it as a threat to security.

Months later, they used the same reason to shut down a conservation project that was to monitor elephants in a conservancy to protect them from poaching.

Commercial use of drones is still a nascent industry in Africa but there is a small but growing community of hobbyists.

Most governments on the continent have clamped down on drone operators by imposing laws that ban or restrict their use, inadvertently killing innovation and locking the countries out of investments that could create jobs.

While there are legitimate concerns about privacy and safety, the absence of progressive drone laws that also cater for innovation means African countries will continue missing out on the multi-billion dollar industry.

In addition to Rwanda, South Africa and Mauritius are leading on the continent, having come up with regulations that allow for licensing and operation.

Morocco, Kenya and Uganda have imposed bans and/or restrictions for operations.

In Ghana, drone operators risk up to 30 years in jail if they don’t register their drones.

Read: Rwanda begins Zipline commercial drone deliveries