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Expo fund aids African nations

FINANCIAL assistance from the Chinese government has helped up to 50 of 53 African countries and regions participate in Shanghai Expo next year, the most in World Expo history, a senior Expo organizer said yesterday.

Twenty percent of the participants from Africa will make their Expo debut at the 2010 event, said Chen Jintian, director of the Joint-Africa Pavilion Management Department of the Expo bureau.

He declined to say how much the countries and regions have received, but said the assistance will be "enough for exhibitions and operations."

Each country will receive an average of US$650,000, said Hua Junduo, China's commissioner-general for the Expo.

Countries defined by the United Nations as low or middle-income, with per-capita gross national income below US$3,255, are eligible for financial assistance to participate in Expo 2010 as China promised in its 2002 bid for the event.

A total of US$100 million in financial assistance is available to countries meeting the above criteria.

Chen made the remarks as construction began yesterday on the facade of the Joint-Africa Pavilion, where 42 countries and regions together with the African Union will present their interpretations of the "Better City, Better Life" Expo theme. Eight other countries from the continent, including South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria, will rent pavilions from the organizer.

The facade of the 26,000-square-meter pavilion will include a huge sponge tree.

The sponge tree symbolizes the origin of human life, said Chen.

The pavilion is in a prime location along the Huangpu River and near a main entrance to the Expo site.


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