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PAU launches electronic system to ease work permit applications in oil sector

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The Petroleum Authority in Uganda (PAU) has launched the Electronic Work Permit Recommendation System (EWPRS) that is expected to ease granting of work permits in the oil and gas sector.

Speaking at the launch of the e-work system on Wednesday, 29 in Kampala, Peninah Aheebwa, the Director Economics and National Content Monitoring at PAU, said it will now take the applicant about fifteen minutes to fill the form and submit it to PAU for consideration.

“The PAU e- Work Permit Recommendation System (EWPRS) will increase efficiency in processing work permits by reducing the number of days applicants can receive a decision. Current waiting time is seven days. The system will reduce it to three,” she said.

“It’s important to stress that this is a recommendation system. The Ministry of Internal Affairs will continue issuing work permits,” she added.

Linda Nalubanga, a Senior National Content Officer in charge of Manpower at the PAU, said the Electronic Work Permit Recommendation System will be linked to the Uganda Electronic Visa/Permit Application System operated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
“The e – Work Permit Recommendation System will improve efficiency in work permit processing, documentation of records, enhanced monitoring of the expatriates, and creating synergies,” she said.

So far, a desk officer at the citizen’s immigration Department works with the PAU to clear foreigners for employment with oil and gas operators like TotalEnergies, CNOOC, UNOC, their main contractors, and subcontractors.

As part of the efforts to ensure that the oil and gas jobs are not dominated by foreigners, the Petroleum Authority is required to advise the Ministry of Internal Affairs when a foreign worker should be granted a work permit.

It is expected that this system will be fully integrated into that manned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs by March 2022. As of now, Nalubanga explained that the manual system of applying for permits will go on until March when an application will be permitted to submit hard copies of the application.

The new system comes at a time when more expatriates are expected in the country. Construction of the central processing facilities at Tilenga and the King Fisher projects is expected early next year. Some expertise will also be expected when construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline and the Refinery take off.

The Petroleum Authority, which is the regulator of the upstream and downstream operation said the country will need some expatriates until Ugandans acquire needed skills.

Aheebwa explained that the system will provide an interface between the Authority and the industry employers.

“So far, the interface between us is going to be eased by this system. We expect the players to submit all their applications for recommendations for work permits online. And PAU we will review online and provide feedback online” she explained.

Statistics indicate that there are 12946 workers in the oil and gas sector 94% of which are Ugandans. The majority of the employees are reportedly employed by contractors and subcontractors in the industry.

The Chairperson of the Board of Directors at PAU, Dr. Jane Nambakire Mulemwa, revealed that she had received complaints from TotalEnergies about the slow process of clearing foreigners to the sector.

She expressed hope that this system would shorten the process so that deserving expatriates are allowed to take on roles where no Ugandan is so far qualified.

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