LED screen.jpgGiant LED screens are a familiar sight in China's cities but these Made in China screens are now turning up in some unexpected places — like Ethiopia.

Unnamed Chinese manufacturers have signed a deal with Mohammed Hussein Ali Al Amoudi, an arab tycoon, to supply 16 giant LED screens for Ethiopia's millennium celebrations next month, according to the Sub-Saharan Informer.

Because it uses a different calendar, Ethiopia celebrates the arrival of the year 2000 next month, seven and a half year later than the west.

The 'paper says the sheikh has already sent a team to China to follow up on the acquisition of the giant TV screens and transport them to arrive before the start of the festivities.

Sheikh Al Amoudi is also constructing a massive concert hall near Addis Ababa's airport to house the major part of the millennium celebrations.

Some of the multimedia screens are expected to be installed in this convention hall in addition to two others at the Addis Ababa municipality and the Sheraton Addis as well as in the Addis Ababa stadium.

The furniture of the convention hall has already been acquired from China as well.

Meanwhile, China's Jiangsu Qiyaan Investment Group is to construct a private industrial zone in Dukem, 37km east of the capital.

Jinagsu's “Eastern Industry Zone” hopes to attract local and foreign investment in textiles, leather, construction machinery and steel manufacturing. A Chinese company will handle the construction of what is claimed to be the first privately owned industrial zone in Ethiopia.

These deal are just two more examples of China's burgeoning trade relations with Africa, often in return for access to natural resources. This aggressive expansion has taken Chinese workers into some of Africa's worst trouble spots, and China has been engulfed in domestic conflicts and its businesses the target of growing resentment from locals.

Earlier this year, rebels attacked a Chinese oil facility in Ethiopia's Ogaden region and seven Chinese oil workers were captured.

China's willingness to deal with pariah states in Africa has hardly endeared it to to the west. The Sudan now accounts for 5% of China's oil imports but the PRC has resisted western attempts to levy sanctions on the Sudan where the US says genocide has occurred in its Darfur region. More on China's Darfur dilemma in this Huffington Post story

China's trade with Africa has risen from $2bn in 1999 to $40bn by 2005. Within three years it is expected to soar to $100bn. China is now the third largest trading partner in Africa after the US and France.

More on China's LED screen sector in this story.

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