Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) officials have finalized the drafting of regulations that will govern the import, operation and production of drones in the country.
The authority has been working on the regulation for three years in collaboration with the Information Network Security Agency (INSA). The project prevents individuals and entities from flying any type of drones in Ethiopia.
Different types of drones are used in Ethiopia. While many are used for video production purposes, there are also military drones belonging to the Ethiopian Air Force. Most drones used by individuals are imported through informal means and are not allowed because there is no legal framework for it in the country, officials said.
“There is a high demand for drones in Ethiopia. It has therefore become necessary to develop a legal framework to govern the sector,” said Yohannes Abera, Director of Air Traffic Management at the Authority.
The draft allows drones to fly up to 120 meters (400 feet), while it prohibits operators from flying them near airports where there is a runway and around the National Palace as well as security agencies.
The project also requires the Air Force to obtain a permit from the Authority before importing military drones, as well as humanitarian organizations and government offices that import drones for agricultural and medical purposes, among others.
The Authority only allowed drones weighing up to 25 kg. Overall, there are drones with a weight of 150 kg, as big as an airplane. The project requires the aviation authority to authorize the import, operation and production of drones, but this requires INSA approval to ensure they do not pose a security risk .
The average price of drones used for production can range from $30 up to $13,000 and beyond. A military drone costs between $70,000 and $25 million, depending on its size, damage capabilities and technology.