Accepted paper:

Projecting Customary and Informal Land Governance for Sustainable Mining in Africa


Linda Mensah (University of Strathclyde)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will provide critical reflections on the various waves of socio-legal reforms in Africa's extractive minerals sector and examine the significance of integrated customary and informal land laws for the achievement of sustainable mining on the continent.

Paper long abstract:

Many countries in Africa are positioning themselves to harness the maximum economic benefits from their abundant mineral wealth in the coming years through various economic and legal reforms. These tedious but steady reforms hinge on navigating a multiplicity of local, national and international laws and norms governing property rights. The legal landscape on mineral-bearing lands on the continent is a potpourri of traditional, colonial and modern state laws that so often clash at various points. The persistence of these legal frictions and the resulting lack of economic development in local mining communities is a testament to the urgent need for a new sustained approach on mining in the sub-region. Through a legal pluralist approach, this paper will question the efficacy of the prevailing top-down legal and institutional approaches and examine the resilience of customary/informal land laws in mining communities on the continent. Though this paper focuses on Africa's mineral laws, I am specifically interested in a comparison between Ghana and Senegal. Both countries represent relatively more matured yet different phases of development in their mining regimes in West Africa. This paper will seek to answer whether the integration and prominence of customary and informal land laws can help in ending poverty that has become synonymous with local mining communities. It will address how informal and customary laws can help to achieve the rule of law and influence international law by extracting valuable lessons from traditional governance of mineral bearing lands for sustainable development on the continent.

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Law in Africa: charting one's course of action in a field of multiple normative orders