Considerations in obtaining work permit in Ghana and deploying employees in Senegal
LOCAL CONTENT CONSIDERATIONS IN OBTAINING WORK PERMITS IN THE OIL AND GAS SECTOR IN GHANA
Ghana passed the Petroleum (Local Content and Local Participation) Regulations, 2013 (LI 2204) to ensure local content in the oil and gas sector.
The Legislation requires that Ghanaians be first given opportunity to be employed in the Petroleum sector where they are skilled for the role, the law aims to ensure that citizens benefit from the country’s natural resources while foreign companies operating in the sector also benefit from their investment. The Petroleum Commission (PC) which was established by the Petroleum Commission Act, 2017 (Act 821) oversees the implementation of the local content and local participation regulation in the upstream petroleum industry.
For companies in the petroleum sector, the PC requires strict compliance of the local content law, to this end the PC is given the mandate to scrutinize applications for work permits in the sector to ensure compliance with the law. To this end, companies are required provide justification for the engagement of a foreign national to work in Ghana highlight matters of succession planning and localization. All companies providing services in Ghana upstream petroleum sector are required to register with the PC to be issued with a licence. Also, Prior to registration in the sector, companies are mandated to submit their local content plans to the PC detailing their procedure for meeting local content requirements in the sector including their plans for employment and training of Ghanaians to enable them gain capabilities and competitively participate in the sector. Companies must prepare and submit annual local content plans for approval by the commission.
Labour Market Search
For an employer to meet the requirements of the local content law, it must prior to applying for a work permit for a foreigner demonstrate to the Petroleum Commission that that it has used its best endeavours to recruit a Ghanaian and not found one suitably qualified for the role. To be able to demonstrate this, it should evidence advertisement put in the national newspapers and a rigorous recruitment process. It must be noted however that junior or middle positions in the sector including foremen and supervisors are reserved for Ghanaians.
The law also requires that where a company is not able to find a suitably qualified Ghanaian and employs a foreigner for a role, a Ghanaian understudy must be recruited for skills transfer to enable the Ghanaian to take up the role within a required time frame which must be agreed by the regulator.
Preference for sourcing of goods and services in Ghana
The local content laws also requires that when sourcing for goods and services, Ghanaian companies are prioritised for example legal services, financial and insurance services are to be sourced from Ghanaian companies. Also, there is the requirement for non-indigenous Ghanaian companies to enter into join ventures with an indigenous Ghanaian Company whose equity participation must be at least 10 percent.
Sanctions for non-compliance
Companies intending to work in petroleum sector must ensure that they familiarise themselves with Ghana’s local content laws to ensure compliance, lack of compliance may lead to criminal liability.
There are also benefits to compliant companies as they are viewed upon favourably by the Regulator and are able to more likely get concessions where needed to meet operational needs and emergencies.
Also training of local workforce has benefits for the companies in the sector as it is comparatively cheaper to hire locally than to hire foreigners. Ultimately a company which is also committed to providing skills to Ghanaians also gains goodwill within the community within which it operates.
SOME KEY CONSIDERATIONS TO NOTE BEFORE DEPLOYING EMPLOYEES TO WORK IN SENEGAL
Senegal is a new entrant into the oil and gas space offering a lot of opportunities for companies in upstream petroleum operations.
The Directorate of Labour and National security is the main agency involved with the procurement of work permits. The Ministry of Interior and the Direction de la Police des étrangers et des Titres de voyage are the main agencies responsible for issuing residence permits However, other agencies including the Commissariat de police du Port de Dakar are responsible for issuing clearances to engineers undertaking short term offshore activities that do not require work authorization.
Validity of documentation
Various documents including police report, medical report and birth certificate have a shelf life of 3 months from the issue date and would not be accepted in support of the work authorization process upon expiry. It is therefore advisable to obtain these documents with the intended submission dates in mind to avoid their expiry before submission and processing, as it may cause delays during processing. The work permit issued by the Directorate of labor is valid for an initial period of 24 months except where the duration stated in the contract is less than 24 months. This permit may be renewed where required. Once approved, a residence permit should be obtained from the Ministry of Interior and / police des etrangers et des titres de voyage. It is issued for an initial period of 6 months and subject to renewal at least 5 working days before expiry.
Drafting of Local contracts
The expatriate employee must possess a local employment contract to be able to work in Senegal. This contract must be drafted in accordance with the guidelines provided by the Labor Directorate failing which an application may be rejected.
Translation and Legalization
The work authorization process requires submission of originals of police report, medical report, and birth certificates. Where the documents required are in another language other than French, same would require translation into French by an authorized translator approved by the authorities.
It is critical to know the processing times for the various permits in order to avoid delays in deployment and start of work. Work permit applications to the Labor Directorate are usually processed between 20-25 working days and it also takes an equal amount of time to process residence permits.
Overall, the process involved in obtaining work authorization in Senegal is usually straight forward once the various rules are followed but may ultimately result in a rejection, where an application falls short of the requirements.
Articles Courtesy of
Paa Kwesi Hagan – Lawyer & Founder of Globetrotters Legal