, MOMBASA, Kenya, Sep 5 – Kenya, a victim of terror attacks from Somalia’s based Al-Shabaab militia, has lately been apprehensive of several things.
From people to technology; but is this sustainable like in the case of drones, where players say their use has been put under a strict set of rules.
Kenya has been a subject of criticism from aviation players and other professionals who often draw comparison with Rwanda on how they have used drones to save lives.
In Rwanda, drones are used to deliver blood products to transfusion clinics among other economical things.
“We need regulations already since every sector wants to use drones,” were Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala’s sentiments at the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (Canso) Africa Conference in Mombasa.
Though he appreciates the need of a secure environment, the CS said Kenya “cannot continue hiding under security concerns.”
Currently, Kenyans use drones for recreation and private purposes.
Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Director General Captain Gilbert Kibe told Capital FM News that a new set of regulations will soon be presented to Parliament for approval on “the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or drones into current and evolving traffic management systems.”
Air navigation service providers say RPAS or drone operations are already presenting safety and efficiency challenges for Air Traffic Management (ATM) operations.
There is a stakeholders meeting set to be held in a week’s time according to Captain Kibe.
“The first regulations were annulled by Members of Parliament because of security and privacy reasons,” he said.
Kenya is not alone since many other African countries are also struggling with establishing acceptable regulations that will not kill innovation.
How is the situation in Tanzania?
Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority Director General Hamza Johari says they are currently engaging stakeholders.
But like Kenyan stakeholders, Johari said drones “are very important for the economic development for any state.”
Any regulations, he said must include a detection and interception mechanism as well as a surveillance infrastructure.
“The surveillance infrastructure will ensure they (users of drones) are not endangering the safety of other airspace users,” he said during an interview with Capital FM News.
“Then you will have enforcement mechanism in case they are violating the rules. In that case, authorities will have to intercept.”
Late last year, the Nairobi County Government had plans of introducing use of drones to monitor payment of parking fees, an initiative that never materialised.
JamboPay Chief Executive Officer Danson Muchemi, then stated that they had developed an aerial imagery compliance data-gathering module that will deploy a drone to collect parking compliance data.
Such economic initiatives will only be put to fruition, once KCAA regulations are approved by Parliament.
Aviation players in the ongoing Civil Air Navigation Services Organization Africa (CANSA) Conference are set to propose internationally acceptable standards to regulate the use drones.
Speaking to Capital FM News at the sidelines of the conference, CANSA Deputy Director General Simon Hocquard called for harmonization of the regulations among African states.
“Each country has different regulations but that can get to the global standards. But there will always be local differences,” he said.
– About Canso –
This is the first time Kenya is hosting the international conference, a gathering of aviation experts from across Africa and beyond who include Air Traffic Management professionals, Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), Air Traffic Management system manufacturers and airline operators/carriers.
It has featured high-level panel discussions, interactive sessions and workshops addressing opportunities, challenges, best practice and future Air Traffic Management developments in rapidly developing regions.
Participants have also been showcasing the latest technologies to improve Air Traffic Management performance developed by Canso members.
The main focus for stakeholders has been Air Traffic Management (ATM) Safety Peer Review Initiative, in a bid to come up with a way forward for improved safety in Africa through Collaborative Decision Making.
They are also reviewing the status of Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) in Africa and recommending way forward to air traffic efficiency and effectiveness.
“Air-flow traffic management (ATMF) and collaborative decision making are two important mechanisms for managing and facilitating air traffic growth efficiently and effectively. Each is based on the basic principles of the protective engagement of industry partners and maintenance of shared processes and procedures,” Canso Director General Jeff Poole pointed out in a statement.
Through collaborative decision making, he expressed optimism that aviation players will seamlessly share relevant data.
For long, he noted that crucial data has been “hidden inside legacy systems of various stakeholders, making it only visible to partners but also to other departments within the same organization.”
Canso – the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization – is the global voice of Air Traffic Management worldwide.
Canso Members support over 85pc of world air traffic.
Members share information and develop new policies, with the aim of improving air navigation services on the ground and in the air.
The Organisation represents its members’ views to a wide range of aviation stakeholders, including the International Civil Aviation Organisation, where it has official Observer status.
It has an extensive network of Associate Members drawn from across the aviation industry.
Kenya is a member of Canso Africa and is represented by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.