Nigeria to benefit from $120bn drone global market by 2020

Commercial Drone Rules in Nigeria

[Editor’s Note: Abiodun Awoleye (APC-Oyo), shared that UAS technology is a new way to collect data and complements existing methods.]

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Nigeria is expected to join the league of countries which have adopted the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) otherwise known as ‘drone’, with the enactment of a legislative framework which seeks to regulate the use of the technological device in the most populous African nation, Nigeria.

Currently, the drones global market is estimated at about $120 billion is expected to increase to as much as $120 billion by year 2020.

In developed economies, The UAS applications can be deployed into film and entertainment industry, land surveying, agriculture, geographic information systems, mining, environmental and infrastructure monitoing, public safety and security, commercial data collection, defence and law enforcement, scientific research, emergency response for search and rescue operations, among others.

Abiodun Awoleye (APC-Oyo) sponsor of the bill which seeks to amend the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (Establishment) Act Cap. N90 LFN, 2004, which scaled through second reading on the floor of the House, on Thursday.

The bill specifically seeks to empower NAMA to regulate additional function if regulating the use of unmanned aircraft (drones) within the Nigerian airspace and for other related matters.

According to Awoleye, the technology is based on autonomously operated vehicles of variable sizes that are typically launched and recovered from a fixed location.

“As a new method of data collection platform, UAS technology complements existing techniques by fitting nicely in the gap between the large-area imaging by satellite and manned aircraft and smaller coverage, time-consuming, but highly accurate terrestrial approaches,” he said.

Awoleye who stressed the need for the control of the deployment of drones by NAMA, being classified as aeroplanes must be flown in manner that can be proven to incur a similar level of risk as piloted aircrafts, argued that “unregulated use of drones pose significant risks to our safety and economy.

“There are serious privacy issues with unregulated drone use in the hands of hobbyists and criminals. Drone can also be weaponised to attack peoole and drop bombs.

“Some common restrictions suggested for our regulatory agencies include but not limited to: mandatory registration of drones, not allowed to be flown in populated/urban area, must be operated within visual line of sight and under 120 meters, establishing no-fly zones around airports, critical infrastructures, sports arena and VIPs gathering.

“It is not out of place to criminalise the flight of drones, whether for recreational/hobbyist or commercial/professional purpose unless the owner first registers with the regulatory authority,” he stressed.

He expressed optimism that Nigeria can take advantage of the huge investment opportunity by having a robust legislation in place to boost confidence in investors, adding that the clarity through the amendment of the bill, will signal the seriousness of government about using the technology safely and create enabling environment to attract multi-million dollars investments into the country.

The bill, which scaled through second reading without any contribution from other lawmakers when Speaker Yakubu Dogara put question, was referred to the House Committee on Aviation for further legislative action.



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