New regulation comes to light to govern drone operation, imports

Officials at the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) finalized the drafting of a regulation that will govern the import, operation, and production of drones in the country.

The authority has been working on the regulation for the last three years in collaboration with the Information Network Security Agency (INSA).The draft prevents individuals and entities from flying any types of drones in Ethiopia.

Different types of drones are in use in Ethiopia. While many are used for video production purposes, there are also military drones owned by the Ethiopian Air Force. Most drones used by individuals are imported using informal means and are not licensed, as there has not been a legal framework for this in the country, officials said.

“There is a high demand for drones in Ethiopia. It has thus 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 draft 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 other things.

The Authority authorized only drones that weighed up to 25 kg. Globally, there are drones with a weight of 150 kg, as big as an aircraft. The draft requires the Aviation Authority to license the import, operation, and production of drones, but this requires approval from INSA to ensure that they do not pose a security risk.

The average drone price used for production can go from USD 30 all the way up to USD 13,000 and beyond. A military drone costs between USD 70,000 and USD 25 million, depending on its size, damage-causing capabilities, and technology.


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