Uganda Launches Electronic Work Permit Recommendation System for Oil Sector Experts

uganda launches electronic work permit recommendation system for oil sector experts
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The Petroleum Authority in Uganda (PAU) has introduced the Electronic Work Permit Recommendation System (EWPRS) to streamline the process for expatriates seeking employment in the oil and gas sector. The online system, launched in Kampala, aims to expedite work permit clearance, reduce processing time, enhance documentation, and facilitate better monitoring of expatriates.

Linda Nalubanga, a Senior National Content Officer at PAU, explained that the internet-based system will require applicants approximately fifteen minutes to complete the form and submit it for consideration. The new system is expected to be linked to the Uganda Electronic Visa and Permit Application System operated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, creating a more integrated and efficient process.

Previously, expatriates seeking employment with oil and gas operators such as TotalEnergies, CNOOC, UNOC, and their contractors had to go through a manual clearance process involving collaboration between the citizens’ immigration department and PAU. The new EWPRS aims to simplify this process and make it more accessible.

As part of the nationalization plan, PAU plays a crucial role in advising the Ministry of Internal Affairs on granting work permits to foreign workers. The electronic system is designed to align with PAU’s nationalization plan to ensure that job descriptions and expertise requirements are fair and inclusive of deserving Ugandan candidates.

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The integration of EWPRS into the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ system is expected to be completed by March 2022. Until then, the manual system will continue, allowing applicants to submit hard copies of applications. The launch of the electronic system comes at a crucial time as the country anticipates an influx of expatriates with the commencement of projects like the construction of central processing facilities and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline.

Peninah Aheebwa, the Director of Economic and National Content Monitoring at PAU, emphasized that the EWPRS would provide a seamless interface between PAU and industry employers. The system enables online submission of work permit recommendations, streamlined reviews, and online feedback.

For Ugandans, Aheebwa sees the system as a valuable monitoring tool to ensure compliance with national content rules and regulations. PAU revealed that approximately 1,500 expatriates have been cleared, contributing to the 12,946 workers in the oil and gas sector, where 94% are Ugandans.

During the launch, Dr. Jane Nambakire Mulemwa, the Chairperson of the PAU Board of Directors, acknowledged previous complaints from TotalEnergies about the slow clearance process for foreign workers. She expressed optimism that the new electronic system would address these concerns and expedite the approval process.

However, some law firms in Kampala, which play a role in recruiting and processing work permits, expressed dissatisfaction with the system, claiming it did not adequately recognize their contributions as third-party service providers. Advocates highlighted the potential benefits of the electronic system, especially in reducing turnaround time and eliminating challenges associated with physical document delivery between PAU and the immigration department.

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