Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- Africa's failed attempts at industrialization has been blamed on a poor focus on research and development, poor participation of w omen in enterprise and low capacity of the locally incorporated industries, by a senior UN official.
The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Chief of Trade and Industry Mahama t Abdulahi said here Wednesday that Africa's failed attempts at industrializatio n was also partly as a result of its failure to promote women's participation in i ndustry.
"The gender issue fits well with industrial issues where you find the issue of f emale man-power involved," Abdulahi, who also heads the UN body's Economic Devel o pment Unit, told a meeting of African gender rights activists.
The Fammes Africa Solidarite (FAS), an international non-governmental organisati on (NGO), championing women rights to social and economic justice, has convened a series of meetings here, ahead of the 10th African Union (AU) heads of state su m mit.
African leaders are bracing for eye-opening discussions on how to revive Africa' s failed attempt at industrialization, conceived at independence of most states f our decades ago, but which has failed to fully take off, due to what experts see as 'systemic weaknesses'.
"The women's participation in economic affairs and industry remains weak.
This i s restricted to food processing and textile industry but their participation is i mportant for all the major sectors," Abdullahi told the pre-summit consultative c onference.
"We should acknowledge female labour is restricted to areas that are lucrative.
The women are involved in informal food processing.
How can we exploit their par t icipation if it is restricted to few sectors," he noted.
The pre-summit talks are aimed at stimulating the active involvement of non-gove rnmental organizations, which would then make recommendations on the kind of dec l arations, with high potential of pushing the industrialization agenda forward.
The UN official said women's participation in the industrial sector had been res tricted by unfavourable economic and socio-political values that make it more di f ficult for the women to exploit economic opportunities.
"These are the obstacles that have been identified," Abdullahi said.
Meanwhile, the African women have rejected the on-going talks on the signing of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between Africa and the European Union , saying it would destroy 'the industrial fabric' of Africa.
Marema Toure, the coordinator of an organization fighting against the signing of the EPAs, AFARD, said African countries risked losing their nutritional backgro u nd if the trade accord with Europe allows the free movement of industrial goods.
"Residues from Europe would be exported to Africa, including second-hand food st uffs like turkey, dumped into Africa," Toure said.
She said African states had legitimate rights to seek alternative rights to fair trade in the interest of their industries if the EU was unwilling to concede to a fair trade deal that would also protect the right of African women to industri a l participation.