Libmonster ID: SE-350
Author(s) of the publication: R. I. TOMBERG


Postgraduate student of IMEMO RAS

KeywordsChinaAfricaeconomyinvestmentraw materials, global crisis

One of the primary goals of Chinese companies ' foreign economic expansion is Africa, which is rich in natural resources. Thanks to certain mechanisms of interaction (construction of large infrastructure facilities, development of comprehensive cooperation through the state line, exchange of high-level delegations) The PRC occupied a niche vacated after the Soviet Union left Africa.


In the 1950s, developing countries, mostly Asian, accounted for a small share of China's foreign trade. Beijing's economic ties with the African continent were practically limited to trade with Egypt, Morocco, and Sudan. In the 1960s, the share of trade with developing countries1 increased (to about 20% of China's total foreign trade at the end of the decade), as did the share of African countries (about 25%). This growth was largely due to the beginning of China's economic assistance to African countries. A significant part of it was represented by commodity loans.

In the first half of the 1970s, China's economic ties with Africa increased markedly, and the continent's share in China's trade with developing countries (slightly less than $2 billion). in the middle of the decade) reached 30%. China's main partners are Tanzania, Zambia, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan and Nigeria.

China's exports to Africa consisted mainly of manufactured consumer goods, machinery and equipment (textiles, paper and wood processing equipment, agricultural implements), rice, tea, canned meat and fish. Imports were dominated by raw materials: cotton, phosphates, copper, wood, as well as bananas and coffee. The trade balance was formed with an asset in the PRC, part of which was repaid in a convertible currency.

During the first decade of reform and opening - up (1978-1988), the share of African countries in China's foreign trade declined significantly. The reason for this phenomenon was the intensification and very dynamic growth of China's economic ties with developed countries, as well as Hong Kong and Macau, as a result of attracting direct investment from there. By the early 1990s, Africa accounted for less than 2% of China's foreign trade - about the same as other Asian countries. Nevertheless, in absolute terms, the trade turnover increased. In 1990, China's exports to Africa amounted to just under $1.2 billion, while imports exceeded $0.3 billion, against $0.5 billion, respectively. and $0.2 billion in 1980.

By the end of the 1990s, China's trade with African countries had grown in both absolute and relative terms. In 1999, exports to the continent totaled $4.1 billion, while imports totaled $2.4 billion. Africa accounted for 2.1% of Chinese exports and 1.4% of imports.2


This trend has continued in the new century. With the high dynamics of China's foreign trade in general, the trade turnover with African countries grew even faster. From 2000 to 2008, China-Africa trade grew by more than 35% annually.3 In terms of trade with Africa, China overtook the United Kingdom in 2005 and France in 2008, thus becoming the continent's second largest trading partner after the United States.

In 2008, it reached $106.5 billion. At the same time, at the beginning of the decade, the indicators of exports and imports equalized, and mutual trade acquired a fairly balanced form (Table 1). After the decline in the volume of trade turnover in 2009 due to the global crisis, trade with African countries quickly gained a high pace: in January-July 2010. it amounted to $71.6 billion, an increase of almost 59% compared to the same period in 2009. This is significantly higher than the total increase in China's foreign trade over the same period (40.9%). According to the final data of the Chinese customs for 2010, the turnover of bilateral trade amounted to $126.9 billion.4 Thus, last year, China became the first trading partner of the African continent for the first time, significantly outstripping the second-ranked United States ($113.3 billion) .5

If in 2007 14 African countries had trade turnover with China exceeding one billion dollars, in 2008 the number of such countries increased to 20. Fraction

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Table 1

China's trade with Africa in 2000-2009 ($ billion)

















































Source: General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China (; International Trade Statistics 2010. WTO, 2010. P. 204.

China accounted for 11.3% of African exports and 11.4% of imports. Approximately 70% of Chinese imports from Africa come from Angola, South Africa, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). China mainly imports raw materials-oil, timber, iron ore, non-ferrous and precious metals, diamonds, coffee and cocoa beans, as well as palm oil and cotton.

The structure of Chinese exports to Africa is constantly improving. In 2009, mechanical engineering, electronics, and high-tech products accounted for more than half of all exports. Textiles, clothing, footwear, steel and rolled products, cereals, tea, tourism goods, medicines, plastic products, etc. were also supplied.

About 60% of China's exports are absorbed by six countries: South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco and Benin. China's largest trading partners are Angola, South Africa, Algeria, Sudan, and Egypt. This is followed by Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, Morocco, Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Benin, Ghana and Gabon. Most of them are producers of oil, a key item of bilateral trade.

African oil accounts for about 28% (Table 1). 2) total Chinese imports of this raw material, with about 25% of imports from African countries coming from the Gulf of Guinea and Sudan. An important feature of China's oil strategy in Africa is that significant hydrocarbon fuel revenues come from countries where access to Western TNCs is difficult or restricted (Sudan), as well as from countries that have relatively recently started or resumed oil production (Angola).

Table 2

China's oil imports from Africa in 2008-2010 (million tons,%)



















Republic of the Congo































































All of Africa







Source: General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China (

It is worth noting that the presence of Chinese oil companies in Africa is a continuation and factor of the PRC's policy of cooperation with the countries of the continent. China's strategy in the region combines a set of diplomatic and economic initiatives that promote its entry into the oil markets of African countries. Another distinctive feature of Sino-African cooperation is the fact that although China's interests in Africa are not limited to oil, the list of major African trading partners of the PRC mainly consists of oil-producing countries.

In order to provide the country with energy, the PRC is pursuing an active investment policy in Africa. According to some reports, China has signed agreements on projects for the development of the oil and gas industry and related infrastructure of the continent's countries worth $30 billion.6

Major Chinese oil and gas companies, such as CNPC (China National Oil and Gas Corporation), operate in the oil industry of African countries.

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radio), Sinopec (China Petrochemical Corporation), and CNOC (China National Offshore Petroleum Corporation). They are owned by the state, and their activities are controlled by the State Energy Committee of the People's Republic of China. Companies ' foreign activities are encouraged through a wide range of tools. According to the researchers, "loans and credit lines, development assistance and other initiatives, arms supplies and other measures all help China to ingratiate itself with the governments of oil-producing countries and gain privileged access to oil sources." 7


One of the drivers of China's economic ties with young African states was the program of economic assistance to developing countries, initiated by Beijing in the 1950s for political and diplomatic reasons. In the 1960s, the PRC committed more than $500 million. Almost half of the amount was promised during Premier Zhou Enlai's trip to Africa in 1964. The main beneficiaries were Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, the Republic of the Congo and Tanzania.

In the early 1970s, the amount of aid increased significantly: in 1970 alone, the commitments made by Beijing amounted to $450 million. New recipients in 1972 included Burundi, Dahomey, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Togo and Tunisia. In 1973, Zaire, Cameroon, the Malagasy Republic, Upper Volta and Chad were added. In total, by the end of 1975, China had committed more than $2 billion to 32 countries on the continent.

The mechanism of providing economic assistance was unique. Like other donors, the PRC sent equipment and specialists to African countries for the installation and start-up of equipment. At the same time, local construction costs (wages for African workers, building materials, electricity) were paid for by selling consumer goods imported from China on the domestic markets of recipient countries. As a result, China expanded its foreign sales markets. Loans were repaid in foreign currency or in export goods. The maturities of loans (usually interest-free) ranged from 10 to 40 years8.

In addition, China sent quite a significant number of low-skilled workers to the construction of technical and economic assistance facilities. Thus, the number of Chinese working in Africa increased from 5,5 thousand in 1969 to 22 thousand in 1972, mainly due to the construction of the Tanzam railway (Tanzania - Zambia), a key transport artery in East Africa with a length of more than 1,800 km, which connected the Zambian copper mines with the Tanzanian port of Dar es.Salam, commissioned in 1975.

In addition to building infrastructure (ports, highways, railways, tunnels, dams, dams), China's economic assistance to African countries included the construction of small and medium-sized enterprises for the production of building materials, ceramics, as well as shoe, tobacco and match factories. Assistance was provided in geological exploration, organization of farms and plantations. To some extent, Chinese technical and economic assistance was structurally complementary to the economic assistance provided by Western countries and COMECON*, which was represented by larger and more technologically complex projects.

The construction of infrastructure facilities like Tangzam became one of the most important features of Chinese assistance to African States in the 1970s. With the dynamic development of the Chinese economy during the years of reforms, this area of cooperation has become very significant. This fact is also interpreted by Chinese economists today as an important factor in strengthening the country's competitiveness in foreign markets: "Investing in the construction of infrastructure in most developing countries has great potential" 9.

Over the past decade, the PRC has built several large structures in almost every African country, implementing the so-called cement diplomacy. Among them are the Palace of Peoples in Djibouti, the Palace of Congresses in Benin, the Foreign Ministry buildings in Djibouti, Uganda and Mozambique. We also mention the Palace of Culture in Cote d'Ivoire, the National Assembly Building in Gabon, stadiums in Benin, Mali, Djibouti, and the Central African Republic, the ring road in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and the high-rise building of the new headquarters of the African Union, the road network in Equatorial Guinea, airports in Mali and Algeria, and the port in Mauritania, three dams in Morocco, Sheraton Hotel in Algeria.

Preferential and commercial terms of cooperation often intertwine, forming a very specific "package" of Chinese economic presence in African countries. The combination of relatively cheap loans and relatively inexpensive services of construction companies with the supply of complete equipment seems to be a crucial factor for African partners.

The success of Chinese companies can also be explained by low requirements for the level of profitability. While most of the western

* The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance of Socialist States, which ceased to exist after the collapse of the USSR (editor's note).

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companies claim an expected profit on loans granted in 15-20%, Chinese firms agree to 10%, and sometimes they are satisfied with 3 - 5%. For example, Chinese builders won a bid to build a ring road in Ethiopia, asking for 3% of the loan return, while Western companies did not agree to less than 15% 10.

The Chinese Government consistently encourages Chinese enterprises with the necessary equipment and experience to develop cooperation with African countries. Following this, the share of construction contracts in Africa in the total volume of such foreign contracts in China is growing: in 2001 it was 14.5%, compared to 26.8% in 200711.

China's major foreign contracts include contracts with Nigeria for the construction of a railway ($8.3 billion) and with Algeria for the construction of a high-speed railway ($6.3 billion), which were signed in 2006.12 It is worth highlighting the contract in Nigeria of the Chinese company China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), which it will be engaged in for a long time. 20 years old.

In total, more than 600 Chinese construction companies are involved in cooperation with the African continent. China Road and Bridge Corporation alone implements about 500 projects in Africa.

DR Congo has been implementing a comprehensive mega-project since 2007, with China investing $3 billion in copper, cobalt and nickel production. Three times more funds are planned to be allocated for the construction and reconstruction of railways and highways with a total length of more than 6 thousand km13, the construction of power plants, high-voltage lines, as well as social infrastructure facilities. Thus, the total cost of the projects is $12 billion. At the same time, criticism of Chinese assistance is taken into account: under the agreements, only one in five people employed in the project can be a citizen of the People's Republic of China, and investments in environmental protection are provided for.

Debt relief is an important part of China's assistance to African countries. The debts of the poorest countries in the region are usually written off. Under the terms of the agreements reached during the China - Africa Forum summit held in Beijing in November 2006, China wrote off $2.8 billion in debt to 35 African countries between 2006 and 200814.

Gratuitous subsidies are usually directed by the Chinese side to the social sphere: health care, education, training of local specialists, including in China. According to some estimates, the share of the "grant element" in China's assistance to African countries tends to grow15.

On the other hand, China's main partners in Africa are resource-rich Angola, Sudan, Nigeria, and Zambia, as well as geopolitically and strategically important South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The structure of China's cooperation with African countries is changing, reflecting, on the one hand, the growing technical level of the Chinese economy and its import needs, and, on the other, the constantly diversifying individual profile of the continent's countries covering all new areas.

So, in Mauritania, the Chinese company Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment (ZTE) is completing the creation of a mobile network for a local telecom operator. According to the plan, the network will be the first large-scale commercial implementation of the technology in Mauritania and throughout the African continent; in the future, this project will be extended to other African countries. A similar contract was signed with Ethiopia. In April 2008, China and Algeria signed two agreements on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. In May 2007, China successfully launched Nigeria's first communications satellite 16.

The industries that started economic cooperation are also not forgotten. China continues to invest in agriculture and light industry, which are key for many African countries. In 2009, Malawi launched China's largest agricultural project in Africa, which will cost $19 million.

The cooperation program proposed by the Chinese side in November 2009 in the framework of the 4th Ministerial Conference of the China-Africa Forum, held in Sharm el - Sheikh, has become an important tool for the continent's struggle with the consequences of the global crisis. Beijing has allocated $10 billion. In addition, the fund was created with an authorized capital of $1 billion to lend to medium-sized and small African companies, provided medical equipment worth $73 million to 30 hospitals, built 50 schools and proposed 100 projects for the production of "clean" energy from renewable sources. In addition, in 2009-2010. The Export-Import Bank of China has provided loans to 45 African countries for the construction of more than 300 infrastructure projects: reservoirs, hydroelectric and thermal power plants, railways and highways.17


The liberalization of the investment climate in African countries, which developed in the course of globalization, including under external pressure, turned out to be beneficial for the PRC. Many long-standing partners have taken measures to improve the investment climate. For example, Angola has adopted a new law on private investment, and the DRC has adopted a law that eliminates various administrative barriers.-

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For example, investment reforms were implemented by Zambia and Benin. In a number of countries, the rules for attracting investments are being simplified and more transparent regimes for their use are being established.

In the late 1990s, China actively engaged in the process of liberalizing the business environment of its investors on the African continent at the bilateral level. Dozens of agreements were signed on investment protection and guarantees, double taxation avoidance, benefits for joint ventures, etc. These efforts resulted in increased direct investment by Chinese companies in Africa and an increase in the number of investment projects.

The number of officially registered enterprises with Chinese capital in Africa increased to 1.6 thousand by the end of 2008, accounting for almost 13% of the total number of all Chinese foreign enterprises (12 thousand). The main investors are still fully state-owned companies, but the share of companies with limited liability and private capital is growing rapidly.

At the same time, the quantitative indicators of Chinese FDI (foreign direct investment) in African countries remain rather modest against the general background. At the end of 2008, accumulated investments in this region amounted to $7.8 billion, or 4.2% of the total amount of Chinese FDI. At the same time, the main part of investments was realized during 2008 and amounted to $5.5 billion. (an increase of 3.5 times compared to 2007). In the annual volume of direct investment abroad from China, the share of Africa looked quite impressive, reaching almost 10%18.

The main recipient of Chinese direct investment on the continent was South Africa, whose economy received $4.8 billion in 2008. (mainly in connection with the acquisition of a 20% stake in Standard Bank). Much smaller amounts fell on Zambia ($214 million) and Nigeria ($163 million). Madagascar, Algeria, Ghana, Mauritius, and DRC were next in the list of recipients of FDI from China 19.

According to some estimates, in 2009, Chinese direct investment in the economies of African countries (excluding South Africa) significantly exceeded the level of the previous year and reached $9.3 billion.20 An important element of bilateral cooperation is likely to be special trade and economic zones, where large Chinese investments will be concentrated. The Chinese government announced the creation of these zones in a number of African countries in 2007.

Thus, there are 10 enterprises operating in the zone of trade and economic cooperation in the mining center of Zambia, which was personally opened by Chinese President Hu Jintao during a tour of African countries in February 2007. It is planned to attract more than $700 million. investments, 6 thousand new jobs were created. In 2008, an agreement was signed to establish a similar zone in Mauritius. We are talking about creating 40 thousand rubles. jobs 21.

In November 2009, during the forum held in Sharm el-Sheikh, China reached an agreement to open trade and economic zones in Nigeria, Egypt and Tanzania.

Modern Chinese assessments of the prospects for investment cooperation with the continent's countries are characterized by a very optimistic attitude. Thus, citing data from the US Department of Commerce on the return on investment in sub - Saharan Africa (24-30% versus the average for developing countries of 16-18%), the authors from China state that "Africa is a profitable region for investment"22.

Such assessments also coincide with official statements. Beijing's long-term plans include increasing investment in Africa to $100 billion by 2020 by the middle of the decade.23

In cooperation with South Africa, China's largest trading partner in Africa, direct investment by African merchants in the Chinese economy has become a prominent component. Their areas of application in the mid-decade were petrochemicals, mechanical engineering, food processing, entertainment, and low-alcohol production. In South Africa, the activity of not only state-owned companies from China, but also private businesses is very noticeable. Chinese Ambassador to the continent Zhong Jianhua compares the role of South Africa on the continent to the role played by Hong Kong in the development of foreign economic relations in the South-East of China.24


Overall, the rapid progress of China's economic ties with the African continent in the new century is easily explained. Cooperation with China gives African countries the following rather obvious advantages::

- access to cheap financial resources and technologies of various levels;

- saturation of the consumer market with relatively cheap goods;

- creation of infrastructure facilities at minimal own costs;

- training of local labor force;

- sustainable long-term sales of raw materials and fuel products;

- support for small and medium-sized businesses in economic cooperation zones and construction of infrastructure facilities;

- access to a promising foreign sales market.

China is committed to fulfilling its international obligations. During a visit to Africa in early 2009, the President of the People's Republic of China spoke about the implementation of commitments to the countries of the continent, emphasizing that, despite the international financial crisis, the key countries of the world are still developing.-

page 62

Tai is not going to cut its aid to 25 countries of the continent. This made a favorable impression. By 2011, China planned to eliminate import duties on 95% of exports from the region's poorest countries26.

Together with Beijing's international support, as well as the resilience of the Chinese economy in times of crisis, these advantages enhance the ability of African countries to maneuver when choosing foreign partners.


There are also negative aspects to China's economic expansion in Africa, from the point of view of European and American experts, environmental organizations, and public opinion. Most often, Western critics draw attention to the undermining of relatively promising local industries, especially the production of consumer goods due to cheap imports from China.

Companies from the PRC are particularly hard hit for not paying enough attention to environmental problems, over-attracting Chinese labor (many firms use the practice of "one bed, two employees", i.e. round-the-clock shifts), "courting" the local bureaucracy (i.e. a developed system of bribes), etc.

The biggest annoyance, however, is the excessive raw material binding to the Chinese economy. China accounts for 46% of Gabon's timber exports, 60% of Equatorial Guinea's timber exports, 27 etc.

Traditionally, China focuses on bilateral relations with foreign countries, and Africa is no exception in this regard. The terms of economic cooperation with "old friends", as a rule, are more favorable than those provided to relatively new partners. This, in particular, is reflected in the differentiated training of local employees and their appointment to responsible positions at joint facilities, the ratio of the number of Chinese and local staff. The reason for discontent in a number of African countries is the actual refusal of China to cooperate in the framework of collective initiatives of African countries aimed at improving their negotiating positions on foreign economic issues, for example, such as NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa Development).

In addition to the raw material and fuel "hunger", the economy of modern China needs to expand markets for goods and services (especially contract ones), as well as new areas of capital application. Package cooperation with African countries helps to solve these problems by combining concessional lending, technical and economic assistance and customs preferences with the commercial interests of Chinese companies. Direct investment from China is gradually becoming a significant factor in economic development in a number of countries on the continent. Foreign trade turnover is growing at a faster pace.

Along with some acceleration of economic growth in African countries over the past decade, Chinese expansion in the region is helping to address critical development challenges, including infrastructure provision.

Relations with China have become a tool for a number of countries on the continent to improve their negotiating positions in relations with other external players and to some extent help the region overcome its peripheral position in the global economy and politics.

1 Excluding Hong Kong and Macau.

2 Guoji maoyi (International Trade). 2000. N 2. P. 62.

3 13.05.2010.

4 http://www.busiweek.eom/11/news/uganda/773-china-africa-trade-hits-127bn-mark


6 ITAR-TASS. 27.05.2008.

Deich T. L. 7 Africa in the Strategy of China, Moscow: Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2008, p. 228.

8 Economy of the People's Republic of China: transport, Trade and Finance (1949-1975). Edited by M. I. Sladkovsky, Moscow: Nauka Publ., 1979, pp. 194-196.

9 People's Daily. Beijing. 04.03.2009.

Sautman B. 10Yan Hairong, Friends and Interests: China's Distinctive Links with Africa - in: China's New Role in Africa and the South. Nairobi, Oxford, Bangkok. 2008. P. 106.

Yao Shumei 11Zhuang Zhenggong. Zhong-Fei hezuo xiankuang ji qianjing zhanwang (Current state and prospects of Chinese-African cooperation) / / Guoji jingji hezuo. 2008. N 7. P. 46.

Foster V. 12Butterfield W.Chen C.Pushak N. Building Bridges: China's Growing Role as Infrastructure Financier for Sub-Saharan Africa. Wash.: The World Bank. 2009.

13 http://www.economist.eom/node/17062713?story_id=El_TSDGNSTP

14 - 12/23/c_13661632.htm

Davies M. 15 Zhongguo dui Feizhou de yuanzhu zhenze ji pingja (China's Aid Policy to Africa and its Assessments) / / Shijie jingji yu zhengzhi. 2008. N 9. pp. 38-44.

16 Xinhua. 14.05.2007.

17 China Daily. 05.02.2010.

Christensen B.V. 18 China in Africa: A Macroeconomic Perspective. Wash.: Center for Global Development. Working Paper 230. November 2010. P. 25.

19 2008 Statistical Bulletin of China's Outward Foreign Direct Investment ( P. 9.

20 - 09/08/content_17639415.htm

Tian Li et al 21 Qian yi meiyuan shi ruhe shixiande (How to reach the level of 100 billion rubles) People's Daily Haiwai ban. 17.08.2009.

Yao Shumei 22Zhuang Zhenggong. Decree. op. p. 7.

23 RIA Novosti. 5.11.2006.

24 Financial Times. 14.06.2010.

Li Xingfeng. 25 Zhongfei hezuo xin and ye (A new page of Chinese-African Cooperation) / / People's Daily. 09.02.2009.

26 Xinhua. 05.02.2009.

Walden B. 27 China Provokes debate in Africa. 12.03.2007 -


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