The authority in collaboration with INSA has enacted a drone regulation that enables it to regulate the import and operation of drones in Ethiopia. The regulation governs the import, operation and production of drones. ECAA will license drone importers, operators and assemblers operating in the country. In a public notice issued this week ECCA stated that businesses and individuals who had already imported drones are required to get clearance from INSA and get registered at the ECAA. Those who import drones should also secure permits from ECAA.
Wossenyeleh Hunegnaw (Col.) director general of ECAA told The Reporter that those who have drones should get clearance from INSA and NISS. “We will register them and those who qualify will be licensed. The licensed operators will be given instructions where they can operate their drones,” Wossenyeleh said. The ECAA will be registering drones in September. “Those who do not qualify will not be licensed,” he said.
ECAA is the sole government organ mandated by law to license flying objects. Wossenyeleh said there has been an increasing drone activity in the country adding that Ethiopia like many other countries did not have a drone regulation. However, individuals and businesses have been importing and operating drones without the knowledge and consent of the authority. “We have to legalise the import and operation of drones. Hence we have put in place the drone regulation,” he said.
Wossenyeleh said drones are posing threats to aviation safety and security in the world. “Drones can easily be operated anywhere and can be used for various purposes. In other parts of the world there have been reports of drones collisions with commercial aircraft,” Wossenyeleh said. “Drone imports and operation should be regulated,” he added.
There is an attempt by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Innovation and Technology to use drones for the delivery of medical supplies in rural areas. The electronic media and film makers frequently use drones. Cameramen also use drones to film weddings and other social events.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) head of cargo transportation Celine Hourcade told The Reporter that Africa is leading the way in exploiting and implementing the use of drones. Aid agencies use UAVs to deliver medical equipment, medicines, and blood samples in remote parts of the continent. While in Kenya, a private cargo airline, Astral Aviation, is under preparation to launch cargo delivery using UAVs.
Hourcade said the Rwandese government has championed the use of drone technologies. The first country in Africa to build a small drone port, Rwanda uses UAVs to transport medical supplies in remote parts of the country known for its thousands of hills. The Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority has established a regulatory framework for remotely piloted aircraft.
The Kenyan government had approved regulations for drones, the second country after Rwanda in the region to embrace commercial use of UAVs.
However, Africa faces some of the same challenges that drone operators in other parts of the world have encountered. Hourcade told The Reporter that governments must address a lack of regulation, safety, and security. “You should also have the training,” she said. “You need to have the right skills for people to operate and maintain drones.”
Of course, lack of regulation is not a problem peculiar to Africa. “We at IATA are working with ICAO, air navigation service providers, and transport ministers all over the world to come up with the right regulatory framework,” Hourcade said. “The objective is to do it efficiently and safely. We need to make sure that this new aviation venture is not causing any damage to traditional aviation.”