When you are focusing on the laws and regulations of your own city, state and country, it’s easy to get tunnel vision. In the United States, the FAA is slowly moving towards allowing commercial drone use. To stay compliant with FAA regulations, today’s commercial drone operators need a Section 333 Exemption. A common complaint, is that they aren’t moving fast enough. Compared to some countries, we don’t have it that bad. Consider what drone pilots in African countries have to deal with.
By restricting UAV use African countries not only exclude themselves from a rapidly growing industry, they also miss out on opportunities to harness the technology for social good. While I appreciate the valid concerns of the respective governments, the restrictive approach is counterproductive for this innovative technology, and prevents African countries from capitalising on the rapidly expanding commercial UAV market.It’s encouraging however that the Kenyan government is considering reviewing its restriction on civic uses cases but it’s crucially important that we encourage conversation not confrontation.
The good news is not all African countries have taken this approach. For example, South Africa banned drones in June 2014. At that time the South African Civil Aviation Authority acknowledged the numerous civic applications that drones have. Not only that, the South African Civil Aviation Authority promised to publish new recommendations after a year, which they promptly did. Now, according to Dickens Olewe, a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, “South Africa is one of the world’s leaders in progressive drone lawmaking.”