By: Racheal Owoyemi

The Honourable Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development Mr Festus Keyamo, SAN has called on aviation industry stakeholders to collaborate and explore ways of leveraging the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) sub-sector for national development.

The Minister who was represented at the just concluded 4th Drone technology Conference and Exhibition held in Lagos, by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr Emmanuel Meribole, stated that the wide spread use of the UAS highlights its potentials in aviation development, adding that Nigeria has been proactive in embracing this innovation, as the country hosted the first ever ICAO Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) in Africa symposium in 2017.

Mr. Keyamo pledged the support of the aviation ministry in ensuring that the RPAS in Nigeria is strategically positioned to play the leading role in agriculture, health, construction and logistics with projections indicating a USD 260 billion market by 2030.

He further stated that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is tasked with providing a robust oversight to ensure safe and secure RPAS operations while assuring that the Authority will be supported by other aviation agencies under his Ministry’s supervision.

The Hon. Minister concluded by commending the efforts of the Authority for the Part 21 of the NCAA regulations which is the framework that set out requirements for certification, registration, operations and surveillance of RPAS. He also appreciated the NCAA for creating a dedicated UAS Integration Unit within it framework. 

“The office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) collaborated with the NCAA to address the use of UAS by Non-state actors for reconnaissance that pose complex security challenges while safeguarding agents and ensuring a safer and more secure future for all” he said.

In his presentation, the Director of Aerodrome and Aerospace Standards (DAAS), Engr. Godwin Balang, who doubles as the Chairman of the UAS Integration Unit, said that a Competency Based Training for UAS operators is pivotal, so as to reduce potential risk to lives and property. Engr. Balang explained that it is now mandatory to obtain a Remote Pilot License to operate a drone in Nigeria.

Highlights of the event include the inspection of the UAS Integration Unit by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development,  Dr. Emmanuel Meribole. The UAS office is located within the NCAA Lagos Regional Office. There was also an award presentation ceremony by the organizers of the conference, which saw the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) clinching the UAS Development Promoter Award.