Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) popularly called drones are one area where African countries are proving more accepting and innovative about. The commercial drone industry has been slow to start in most other parts of the world. The United States and the United Kingdom prohibits drone flights that leave the line of sight of a human pilot.
In the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority (CCA) writes the guidebook. Drones are classed as a type of aircraft, not a toy. However, there are only a few restrictions of the drone weighs less than 20 kg. Flying for commercial use requires the permission from the CAA. You will have to show you are “sufficiently competent”.
If your drone is under 20 kg and you’re not using it for commercial reasons, then you still have some rules to follow. Anyone filming with a drone for their own purposes must avoid flying it within 150 meters of a congested area and 50 meters of a person, vessel, vehicle or structure not under the control of the pilot.
You will also need to fly the aircraft within sight. This means you can’t go above 400 ft in altitude or further than 500 meters horizontally. If you want to exceed that, you’ll again need to seek explicit permission from the CAA.
Most African countries have no rules on the use of drone due to insignificant number of drones in their country. In contrast, African countries like Rwanda, Cameroon, Malawi, South Africa, and Kenya are increasingly open to the use of drones in tourism, health services, and e-commerce. This has made Africa a test ground for drone enterprises.
In Nigeria, drone has not been used outside military operations. The fight against Boko Haram mandated the use of drone for surveillance in Sambisa forest of Northeast Nigeria, the terrorist group stronghold. However, there are a few drone owners who use their drones for videography, photography or fun.
On many occasion, several stake holders in the petroleum industry have called on the Nigerian government to use drones to monitor oil pipelines which are regularly damaged by vandals.
As reported by Aviation Ages on June 29, 2017, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has issued the first Remotely Piloted Aircraft/Drones RPAS Operators Certificate (ROC) to Oando Plc, an oil company, in order to regulate the activities of drone around the airports environment in the country. Capt. Muhtar Usman, the Director General (DG), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) presented the Certificate to Oando Plc at the Aviation House on the 22nd June, 2017.
According to the report, NCCA is pioneering the issuance of certificate to civil/private operators in the unmanned aircraft operations category,”
“Oando Reservoir and Production Services Ltd. received the certificate having satisfied the requirements and found competent to secure the safe operation of the Aircraft type Lockheed Martins SN 248-255. The certificate is for flights with the purpose of aerial work specifically Environmental Observation Monitoring and Protection.”
“The DG said the RPAS regulatory framework is a work in progress and we shall continually engage the industry stakeholders to review the regulations when necessary.”
“The RPAS Operators Certificate (ROC) shall remain in force till 15th June, 2019 and shall be carried on site during each authorized/approved operations.”