It is now illegal to fly drones in Nigeria without government approval

“Do you have permits to fly that ‘thing’?” (Reuters/Tom Jacobs)

Nigerian drone enthusiasts, like others across the world, have spent the last couple of months experimenting and exploring innovative ways to use drone technology. Mostly adopted by filmmakers, start-ups and enthusiastic hobbyists, there was also hope on the part of e-commerce companies that drones could be the answer to dealing with delivery challenges in the country, including frequent traffic congestion and a haphazard home address system.

That hope is fast fading, with an announcement by the Nigerian government yesterday (May 8) of an immediate ban on launching Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RUA) or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) in its airspace without a permit from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as well as the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

The government argues that the deployment of drones “without adequate security clearance” has led to “predictable safety concerns and security threats.” Security concerns in Nigeria remain high as the country battles with a deadly insurgency by the terrorist group Boko Haram that has left millions displaced and at least 20,000 dead in the north, as well as re-surging militancy in the south. While the government didn’t cite specific concerns in its statement, there are likely fears that Boko Haram and other groups might deploy drones for surveillance and strikes.

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