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Podcasting in Africa: 5 Things You Want to Know

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Recently, Techcabal predicted that podcast listeners in Africa will increase due to the availability of content that attracts listeners. If you’re interested in targeting this region with your content, here are five things you need to know about the podcasting scene in Africa.

1. Smartphone Adoption Is Pushing Podcast Listeners Up

Did you know that smartphones are widespread in Africa? Reports by the World Bank and African Development Bank state that there are 650 million mobile users in Africa. Meanwhile, 64% of Sub-Saharan Africans own a smartphone.

According to GSMA, a global representative organization of mobile operators, 615 million sub-Saharan Africans, equating to 50% of the region’s populace will subscribe to mobile services by 2025. This is because almost every African owns a smartphone. In recent years, smartphone adoption in Africa has helped boost the podcasting industry.

African audio creators now tell their social, political and cultural stories easily. These podcasts are not only popular, but available and accessible too. Africans listen to their favorite shows when jogging, travelling, cleaning, or exercising. According to this Reuters Digital News Report, South Africa and Kenya recorded that around 40% of the highly educated people are monthly podcast users. Smartphones, combined with headsets or headphones, are increasing the number of listeners in Africa through mobile Apps.

2. There’s an Africa Podcast Day

#AfricaPodcastDay was launched on 12th February 2021 to take place yearly. This was an initiative by Josephine Karianjahi and Melissa Mbugua, co-founders of Africa Podfest. The day is set aside to celebrate and appreciate the continent’s podcasting industry. Here, podcasters, listeners, and the whole audio community get together to recognize the growth and accomplishments of the podcasting industry in Africa.

#AfricaPodcastDay also offers online and physical shared spaces for the continent’s podcasters to exchange knowledge and interact with both African and international partners.

3. Africa Podfest Focuses on Marginalized Voices

Africa Podfest gives marginalized voices like women, youths, and the LGBTQ community a platform to share their views. In an interview with africanews, Karianjahi said that she “got involved in podcasting in 2018 as a podcaster….and also as a podcast listener.” She also said that the speedy growth of the online podcasting community enabled her to meet other African podcasters like Melissa Mbugua.

Together, she and Melissa founded Africa Podfest to give the African audio community a platform to connect, network, and work together. Podfest also helps podcasters to find studios and co-hosts. The movement inspires, uplifts and promotes inclusion by offering guidance and exposure to new and marginalized podcasters in Africa.

4. There’s a Demand for Podcasts Among Young African People

African podcasts have a great audience profile of people under the age of 35, while older people prefer listening to the radio.

Young people love podcasts for three reasons. These are convenience, choice, and inclusion. A UN Children’s Fund report shows that South Africa has 72% of young people aged 15 to 24 who own smartphones.

African youths listen to podcasts because they choose what shows to listen to, as well as their time to listen. Podcasts are becoming popular in Africa because of the inclusion of diverse voices. This reflects listeners’ interests more than the traditional views aired on mainstream radio.

5. The High Cost of Data is the Biggest Obstacle

Mobile data is pricey in Sub-Sahara Africa. This has caused a big digital gap between the world’s internet haves and have-nots. The 2021 Worldwide Mobile Data Pricing report shows that South Africans pay up to $5.29 (R85) per gigabyte of data scoring nearly four hours of work among people who earn minimum wage while data in North Africa costs $1.53 per gigabyte.

These high data costs can also affect the accessibility of podcasts. Aaisha Dadi Patel of Wall Street Journal Africa suggests that people prefer listening to the radio as opposed to looking for a podcast, downloading it, and listening to it with such pricey internet connection and streaming rates.

No Podcaster left behind. Podcasting in Africa

Podcasting in Africa: What Does This Mean for the Indie Podcaster?

Despite setbacks, podcasting is on the rise in Africa. The high cost of data cannot beat the familiarity, ease and inclusion that comes with podcasts. 

Though it’s only a matter of time before knowledge and technology can overcome these obstacles, creators worldwide can help podcasting in Africa by exporting their episodes at lower bitrates. If you’re producing spoken-word content, then you’d be surprised at how small you can make your files without any noticeable drop in quality.

After all, who doesn’t want more listeners? And with such a huge demand for great podcast content in Africa, it would be a mistake to exclude so many people from being able to hear your show.

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