Drones have grown in popularity over the past decade. From drones being used in videography and photography, to them being used as complex weapons in fighting wars, drones have definitely been utilised more in the past decade at least in Africa.
The first major governmental discussions about drones in Africa was when the Kenyan Wildlife Service planned to use drones to monitor its wildlife at OI Pejeta conservancy in Laikipia County.
The plans were eventually halted as the government cited security reasons for abandoning the project.
A year later in 2015, Kenya announced regulations for drones in Kenya including requiring a registration fee of about $1,000 before people could buy or fly drones. And while that might be considered counter-innovative, it opened the door for a wider discussion on drones in Africa.
Nigeria on its part passed drone regulations in 2016, including guidelines for registering and flying drones within the Nigerian airspace.
But before we discuss how to get a drone license in Nigeria, let’s answer a question that might look simple at the first read, but might be complicated when you dig into details; what are drones?
What are Drones?
Internet of Things Agenda in this post say “A drone, in technological terms, is an unmanned aircraft. Drones are more formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems (UASes).
Essentially, a drone is a flying robot that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems, working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS.”
Space.com define drones more simply when they say, “In aviation and in space, a drone refers to an unpiloted aircraft or spacecraft.”
Edx.org, in its drone learning category, defines drones as “remote control flying machines capable of handling a variety of tasks.” EDX goes on to say, “While organizations like the military have been using drones for a long time, the general public now has greater access to quality, easy to fly drones for a variety of purposes.”
Whatever definition appeals more to you, two things are quite certain here:
· Drones are aircraft, and they are always unmanned.
Having defined drones, let’s guide you on your quest to get a drone license in Nigeria. But first, who needs a drone license in Nigeria?
Who Needs a Drone License in Nigeria?
According to UAVcoach.com, “Drones weighing more than 250 grams (.55 pounds) must be registered with the NCAA.”
Getting a Drone License in Nigeria: What you Should Know
According to UAVcoach.com, these are the general things you should know before flying a drone in Nigeria.
It is integral that you follow these laws in order to avoid prosecutions by the government.
- It is unlawful to operate a drone without first seeking the required authorizations. Flight plans must be submitted to the NCAA for authorization prior to conducting each individual drone flight within Nigeria.
- Drones weighing more than 250 grams (.55 pounds) must be registered with the NCAA.
- Drone operators must obtain a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Certificate prior to flying in Nigeria.
- All drone operators must be at least 16 years of age or older.
- Drones may not be operated in a reckless or other manner that may cause harm to person, property, or other aircrafts.
- Do not fly across the border from or into another state.
- Do not operate over the high seas without proper authorization from Air Traffic Control.
Now to the all important topic; how to get a drone license in Nigeria.
How to Get a Drone License in Nigeria
There are a few systematic steps that you must take in order to get your drone license in Nigeria, but before you embark on that quest, we must warn you; getting a drone license in Nigeria is not easy at all. However, if you follow the steps as outline in this article, you should be well on on your way to getting approved.
You must qualify before applying: The first thing is that you must be qualified to apply for a drone license before applying or you might be wasting your time, and in some cases, your money.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) are in charge of regulating drones in Nigeria, and these are the yardsticks that they have put in a place for an individual or corporate organisation to qualify for a drone license:
You must have a business that is incorporated with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and must have a share value that is over 20 million shares.
You must be free of any criminal history: Although the NCAA does not state this in principle, they however require that you fill a Personal History Statement(PHS) with the Nigerian Security Agency(NSA). It can be inferred therefore, that the NCAA in collaboration with the NSA wants to make sure that you do not want to cause harm with your drones before approving your license.
You must be 16-years-old or older: To apply for a drone license, you must be 16 or older when turning in your applications.
You must pay a non-refundable processing fee of 500,000 Naira to the NCAA: After certifying that you are eligible to apply, the next thing that you want to do is to actually start the application process.
In Nigeria, this means that you have to pay a non-refundable fee of 500,000 Naira for your application to start.
Think hard and well before applying, because, as you can see, the fee is non-refundable. If you think you stand a chance of getting approved, by all means pay the fee and move to the next step.
Playing the waiting game: This is any means, the least pleasant step (in my own opinion). By now, you must have measured your eligibility, filled the PHS, and paid a whopping 500,000 Naira for your licensing(or the denial thereof) to commence, but now you have to sit idly for 6 excruciating months for the NCAA to decide to approve or deny your license application.
However, if you follow the steps listed above, and have a clean security record, your license should be approved.