Nigeria to rake in $1.2bn from commercialising drone services

The Federal Government has concluded plans to put a policy in place for the regulation of use of drones for commercial purposes.

This is coming amid reports that Nigeria has become one of the developing economies with an increasing use of the unmanned aircraft.

The regulation policy, when fully put in place would see Nigeria raking in about $1.2 billion in revenue from licencing and other service charges from commercial usage of drones, annually.

It was gathered that as at March 2017, more than 10 private companies had acquired the device for services ranging from monitoring projects, bulkmail services to other agro-based projects.

Laying more emphasis on the development, the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Monday expressed concern over the increased usage of drones by individuals and organisations for both commercial and private purposes.

He stated that in order to check the dangers posed by such an act, Nigeria has no option than to come up with necessary regulations to address the development.

It was learnt that the regulation, when fully formulated would see owners of drones paying about 5 per cent of market value of the device in addition to air services charge as part of the cost of using the aircraft in Nigeria.

Speaking on the sidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organisation Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) Symposium for Africa and Indian Ocean held in Abuja, the Minister stated that care must be taken to check excesses of deployment of drones in Nigeria.

Sirika said: “The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s Regulations Committee is putting a regulatory framework in place to address the commercial use of the RPAS.

“We have already taken the lead as we have already developed regulations regarding the use of unmanned air vehicles in Nigeria and we are continuing to discuss and interact with stakeholders worldwide.

“It is easy to register a drone in America and some believe that it should be easy to register a drone that way in Nigeria; but let me draw the attention of Nigerians and plead with them that our systems, values, norms, tradition and culture are very different from that of the United States.

“We cannot afford to allow drones to roam about our airspace uncontrolled and unregulated.

“They will for sure be regulated, but we will not kill the enthusiasm of hobbyists and other users of drones. We will only regulate to ensure that all of us remain safe and secure.

“Imagine the use of drones to drop anthrax in an envelope somewhere, it will be disastrous to our nation because drones can carry weight. A drone can carry two kilogrammes of bomb to go and drop on innocent people. But that cannot be allowed in Nigeria, which is why we will regulate them.”

On the need to incorporate remotely piloted aircraft and their users into the culture of safety and responsibility, he added that the best way to accomplish this was to work with a wide range of stakeholders, including the government, aviation regulators and manufacturers.

He, however, added that unmanned aerial vehicles were handling jobs that could be dangerous for people or other aircraft to do, and that such cases were seen in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

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