Published 1 August 2019
The African continent is going through a profound period of change. For much of its recent history, its natural resources have been exploited with little consideration accorded to local communities and their environment. This situation has become intensively criticized as preventing the continent’s development and its population from benefiting fully from their natural resources. The concept of a ‘social license to operate’ (SLO), however, has emerged, notably in the extractive sector, to bridge the dire insufficiencies of the current African extractive governance regime. Thus far, the SLO concept remains multi-sourced and englobes uncoordinated and multi-layered social, environmental, and human rights concerns. This article aims to lay the groundwork for giving more legal substance to this still fuzzy concept. To assess better the procedural and substantive components underpinning the SLO, this article examines the SLO’s articulation in the OHADA zone, a legally homogenous space with vast natural resources. This task is of critical relevance as the SLO may define whether the trajectory of African extractive governance will evolve to integrate the considerations of local communities better or perpetuate the inadequacies of the status quo.
This paper will be part of the OGEL Special Issue on "Social Licence to Operate (SLO) in the Extractive and Energy Sectors". More information here www.ogel.org/news.asp?key=571