Civil Adaptation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and National Security in Kenya
Nasong’o, Herbert Wafula
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A country’s security and safety is of importance for its sovereignty, growth and development. Growth and adoption of technology has had great positive impact on nations and at the same time posed security threats. Kenya has experienced an increase in the number of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the hands of civilians, with some of their use unknown to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), the organization tasked with safety and security oversight in civil aviation, The study sought to assess the impact of civil adaptation of UAVs on National Security in Kenya. To achieve this, the researcher was guided by the need to establish the rationale of UAV adaptation by civil operators which would then assist in determining the impact on various aspect of national security safety and finally examine the effectiveness of existing regulations to ensure safe civil UAV use in Kenya. The study was informed by the increased use of UAVs by civilian entities and individuals which may pose threats to national security, safety of manned aircraft operations and breach of privacy of citizens and organizations. Securitization theory formed the theoretical basis for this study. A sample size of 25 registered users was used with mixed research method using exploratory research design being adopted. The study targeted registered UAV users in Kenya. UAV operators were purposively sampled to provide information vital for the study. Data was collected using primary and secondary sources using semi structured interviews and focused group discussions. Snowballing was also used from references by registered users to identify more respondents. Data obtained from the field was analyzed using SPSS version 21 for descriptive statistics while qualitative data obtained from interviews and focused group discussion was analyzed thematically using content analysis technique based on study objectives. Finding from the study revealed that there was a growing interest in use and adoption of UAVs by civilians mostly of the quad copter type that use helicopter technology and light in nature. The study results showed that entertainment, conservation, infrastructural development and agriculture industry were the main industries that had adopted UAVs within the country. UAV use among civilian was found important in reduction of management cost, improved work quality in photography and more flexible technology. Civilian adoption of UAVs had various impacts including protection of wildlife, evolving entertainment industry and increase of agricultural production through effective monitoring of farms. UAV adoption was found to have negative impact on national security as well as safety of communities and individuals living near areas of operations. The study also found that there was inadequate and inefficient adherence to policy and regulations on UAVs due to lack of awareness on rules and regulations, untrained operators and unlicensed UAV users. Geo fencing, jamming, sensitization on policy and regulations for UAVs, training and technological investment on UAV use and improved integrated communication between UAVs and manned aircraft platforms were recommended for adoption for safe use of UAVs in Kenya.