Kribi (Cameroon) by Camair Drone Boy

Few months ago I attended one of those outdoor events that are now trendy among the youth of Douala. Everything was going on well until I saw, out of nowhere, two devices flying over the crowd in ecstasy: everyone was gesturing towards the sky. I did not know what it was, but received some clarification on these two “things” coming and going above us later: it was drones. Frankly, the names of these objects and their use were buried somewhere in my memory. I used to associate drones with war. So I became worried: we were in a civilian area conducting a quite innocent activity in a great environment … It was finally explained that the drones were there to capture the beauty of the moment … from the air. I was fascinated!

A drone is an unmanned aircraft remotely piloted, able to conduct missions of civilian or military orders (i.e. maps or monitoring missions). Indeed, most of the time, drones are used during military conflicts. However, a whole market of civilian drones exists for a while now. It just started to open to the general public through mini-drones, used as much by adults as by children. The craze for these flying objects in Africa, is becoming greater, but data on the market for civilian drones, precisely on the continent, are rare and precious. In an article published by BBC, Jonathan Ledgard, Director of Afrotech project, believes that drones could represent 10-15% of the transport sector in Africa in the next decade. Furthermore, regulations on civilian drones are not clear enough, except for Rwanda. The country has made pioneer industry in establishing a legal framework for their operation. It will host the first “Drone-port” of the world, on the shores of Lake Kivu in Kibuye.

So I went in search of what is done in Cameroon in the field, and I came across two passionate people.

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