Nigerian businesses with ambitions of being drone operators are now expected to have registered companies with minimum a share capital of 20 million naira ($100,000) according to new regulations. In addition, drone operators will pay a non-refundable processing fee of 500,000 naira ($2,500) after which they will have to secure a security clearance from the office of the National Security Adviser.
The entire process is expected to begin six months before permits are required suggesting some operators might have to wait up to a year to get through the red tape at the government agencies.
Operators granted security clearances will then be issued permits valid for three years but will have to pay an ‘annual utilization fee’ of $500. The process will cost a minimum of $4,000 over a three-year period compared with the $5 it costs to register drones in the United States.
Nigerian authorities set down this course two weeks ago when regulators placed a ban on launching drones in Nigerian airspace, citing safety and security concerns. But it turns out the ban came with a caveat: commercial and recreational drone operators could launch drones if they got permits from both the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). The irony of potentially paying up to $4,000 to fly professional drones with prices starting as low as $400 wasn’t lost on some commentators.
The high costs of registering and operating drones will likely be a barrier to innovation for different industries such as agriculture and creatives in film-making and photography or for young developers planning to use drone technology to solve local problems will all be affected.