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Why flying drones in Africa’s airspace is risky




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As the use of commercial drones gains momentum in Africa with aid agencies and agricultural institutions fast taking up the technology to streamline their work, the lack of regulations as well as security and safety remain key concerns.

From the delivery of emergency medical supplies and blood samples in Rwanda and Malawi to gas exploration in Tanzania and Mozambique, the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are proving extremely useful.

However, only South Africa and Rwanda have proper laws on the use of commercial drones within their airspace.

Civil aviation authorities are struggling to keep the unmanned aerial vehicles out of the way of aircraft and incorporate them within their air navigation and surveillance systems.

“African operators are trying to address current concerns. Countries should also insist on drone pilot training as part of regulations,” said Celine Hourcade, the head of cargo transportation at the Interna-tional Air Transport Association.

Ms Hourcade added that the association is working with the International Civil Aviation Organisation, air navigation agencies and governments in formulating a regulatory framework.

In February this year, Rwanda opened its skies to commercial drones, barely two years after South Africa approved its own drone regulations.

Rwanda’s revised regulations, are the first in the region, were approved in January. They outline the use of UAVs in complex commercial operations.

“The laws allow drones to fly above the visual line of sight and permit the use of highly automated drones,” said the Minister of State in charge of Transport in the Ministry of Infrastructure Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye.

Kenya and Tanzania are still struggling to put the necessary laws in place.

Two months ago, Kenya’s parliament refused to endorse the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Regulations 2017 over safety and privacy concerns.

“Drones are now operating illegally in Kenya. The tragedy is that we can’t do much about it because we don’t have any laws to enforce. My primary concern is safety, particularly around airports,” said Kenya Civil Aviation Authority director-general Gilbert Kibe.

Nairobi now hopes the regulations will be in place by the end of the year after addressing concerns raised by Members of Parliament.

In March, KCAA issued a gazette notice on drone regulations that seeks to among other things, establish a registry to control the ownership and use of the unmanned vehicles.

“All drone operators will have to register with us and obtain a permit to fly. We will need to know how many drones are in the country, what purpose they are for and who their operators’ sake,” said Mr Kibe.

The gazetted regulations, if endorsed by parliament, will allow Kenyans to acquire drones for sports, private activities and commercial purposes.

Those who wish to import, own or operate drones will also be expected to apply to KCAA and pay a fee. The drone pilots, who must have a liability insurance, will also be limited to 400 feet above ground level.

The proposed regulations also ban flying drones over or around strategic installations and radar sites unless one has a permit from KCAA.

The agency had also proposed a ban on importation of military-grade drones by civilians, while those wishing to bring in commercial drones would have to notify the aviation agency in writing and obtain a registration certificate.

In Tanzania, even though the importation of drones is allowed, one must get express authority from the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) to bring them in, including a user-pilot certification from either of the seven accredited institutions.


“We are engaging stakeholders on the use of drones in our airspace. We believe that they are important for our economic development. The regulations we are proposing will include detection and interception mechanisms,” TCAA director general Hamza Johari said.

Mr Johari said that the surveillance and detection mechanism will ensure safety of other airspace users, and also allow authorities to intercept UAVs that go against the regulations.

Currently, Dar es Salaam and Kigali only allow daytime operation of drones. Drone operators in Tanzania must also insure the aircraft.

TCAA has also classified the remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) into three: Light (under seven kg); medium (between seven and 150 kg) and large (over 150kg). However, for the medium and large RPAS, one must get a special permit from the Ministry of Defence.

To boost safety, drones are not allowed within a five-kilometre radius of Tanzania’s international airports in Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro, and within a three kilometre radius of domestic airports.

Drones are also banned in national parks. Drone pilots must also have a special permit from the civilian aviation authority to fly over populated areas and crowds.

In Rwanda, operators are required to pay for the drones’ insurance and hold a valid remote operator’s certificate issued by the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority.

Operators must also hold a pilot’s licence and a medical certificate. The licence, like Tanzania, must have been received from a drone training institution from Europe, South Africa or the US.

Kigali too, does not allow the use of drones around strategic installations including airports, military bases and radar sites. There are also plans to incorporate drones within the country’s traffic management system later this year.

“We are planning capacity building, drone pilot training and certification of regional drone operators in Rwanda,” said Mr Uwihanganye.

Through its aviation authority, Kigali allows a maximum altitude of 328 feet for flying drones, with a maximum take-off weight of 25 kilogrammes.

To protect its traditional aviation players, the drones cannot be operated within a six-kilometre radius of its airports without clearance from the country’s aviation agency, and must have a special aviation number displayed as assigned by RCAA.

Rwanda has also set speed limits for the drones at not more than 87 knots (100 kph).

Uganda on the other hand remains one of the region’s most restrictive countries for drone operations, with its civil aviation laws demanding a 90-day notice of intent to import into its territory.

It also empowers its Department of Defence to have some clearance duties in certain drone operations as it seeks to ramp up its safety laws.

Like the rest of its neighbours, its amended civil aviation regulations also demands a pilot training certification and bans UAV’s over crowds and cities.

South Africa, which is now being used as a benchmark for successful infusion of drones into its airspace and navigation management system, has managed to address some of the concerns African governments have been having in trying to regulate this new aviation platform.

Recently, during the Africa Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) conference in Mombasa, aviation players raised national security, privacy, accidents, ownership and training as some of the concerns that have held back African governments in regulating the use of drones within their airspaces.

Another challenge is the integration of remotely piloted aircraft systems into current and evolving air traffic management systems, while ensuring the safety and efficiency of aviation operations.

“It is indeed time that we started holding discussions on drones as part of the air traffic management; this will address the safety and national security concerns that several governments and stakeholders have had, which has slowed down regulations in this new sector,” said CANSO deputy director general, Simon Hocquard.



Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’




Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –




Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard




Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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