Long-Delayed Drone Law to Turn into Effect


The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) has finalized the remotely piloted aircraft draft directive that will enable it to control the importation and operations of drones in the country.

The directive that spent seven years in the making will allow the Authority, the sole government agency responsible for administering all air transport and operations in Ethiopia, to finally preside over the unregulated drone sector that has been growing fast in the country.

The directive that was prepared in consultation with the National Intelligence & Security Service, Defense Ministry, and Information Network Security Agency is expected to enter into effect by the Ethiopia New Year.

The draft will enable the Authority to regulate permits related to the importation and manufacture of drones, their use and operation, the height and permitted public places drones can be flown as well as privacy and security issuers related to the unmanned aerial vehicles.

The draft exempts children’s toys, air balloons, and airplanes from being governed. 

The Authority has also set a deadline for all drone owners to register their property before October 11, 2020.

“Businesses have been importing and operating drones without the knowledge and consent of the authority,” said Anmut Lemma, corporate communications director for the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority.

“Besides their growing usage, drones can be used for various purposes. Therefore, there was a need to pass a law that would regulate the sector,” added Anmut.  

In the past, as there were no rules and regulations that govern the importation and operation of drones in the country, people who tried to import drones were met with contradicting experiences.

In some instances, the imported drones were seized by officials at Bole International Airport. Importers were required to obtain permission from the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority and the Information Network Security Agency to get clearance. While in other instances, people were neither required to obtain a permit nor to pay taxes.

Different types of drones categorized by size, camera quality, and materials used to manufacture the drones’ equipment are also sold in Ethiopia, and their price reaches up to 70,000 birr while drones rentals for a day cost around 2500 birr.

Besides private businesses using drones, government institutions have also caught up on the technology and are utilizing it to facilitate their operations.

The Ministry of Mines, Petroleum & Natural Gases signed an agreement with the Ministry of Innovation & Technology in 2018 to use drone technology for mineral and natural resource exploration and surveillance of fuel pipelines.

The Ministry of Health collaborated with partners to develop and apply drone technology to distribute medical supplies and equipment in rural areas.

The Office of the prime minister has also been using drones in its various productions that showcase the various redevelopment projects in the capital.