That settles it, I am getting a drone. I have wanted one for a bit now, but rather than get one for the benefits, I think I’ll end up getting it in protest of the purported regulation laws, which made it to the internet over the weekend thanks to this post on Linkedin.
According to the post, to fly a drone in Nigeria, besides having to write a letter to Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) stating your proposed use of your Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA);
It is also expected that your business is incorporated with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) with a minimum capital shares of N20,000,000. That is twenty million Naira in shares [See Pg 2. Sec.2(ii), b(iii)].
For the purpose of the appropriate due diligence by the Nigerian Security Agency (NSA) and part in compliance with NCAA NigCAR Part 17 – Aviation Security Regulations, you are required to fill out the Personal History Statement (PHS) at the headquarters of the SSS in Abuja. The NCAA requires a non-refundable processing fee of N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) bank draft payable to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. All this must be done six months prior to your targeted date of use/ operation of your ‘commercial’ drones. Finally, your PAAS will be issued by the Air Transport Licensing Committee (ATLC) once your Security Clearance is made by the NSA. The PAAS issued is valid for three years with an annual utilisation fee of N100,000.
Err, hold up.
You have to have a company with MINIMUM share capital of 20 million Naira, pay a NON-REFUNDABLE fee of half a million Naira and an annual fee of N100,000 to fly this?
Doesn’t make sense at all. Considering that most (not all) of the drones you’ll see in these parts cost around $1,000, it’ll cost more to get a license than it will to own a drone.
The bigger issue though, is that such a steep barrier of entry is being put up at a time where more than ever, Nigeria needs to find technology solutions to many of its problems. Drones for instance can be used to monitor oil and gas pipelines and installations, provide reconnaissance support for the military and police particularly in cases like the Boko Haram or Armed herdsmen menace for instance, delivery of medical supplies to hard to reach areas, pesticide application, etc. These are all pertinent issues that the government desperately needs to find solutions to, but rather than embrace a possible solution, it is trying to strangle it with regulation.
The silly regulation, which no doubt will stifle experimentation and innovation in the area of drones comes at a time when Africa is becoming a testbed for drone services. You can expect that after setting us back now, a few years down the line the government will be looking for “expats” with ridiculous amounts of forex to help with drone tech.
To give you some perspective, it costs just $5 to register a drone in the US, provided that you are at least 13 years old and have an internet connection. There are also no-fly zones (around airports and Washington DC) for safety and security reasons, which makes sense. Ideally, one would expect a similar set of laws here, to help spur people into finding new, groundbreaking solutions to some of our problems.
Expecting sense from our government in these parts however, is always a tall order.
I do hope for the sake of my own sanity, that this turns out to be an elaborate hoax of sorts.