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Review: The Podcasting Industry in Africa So Far

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The Podcasting Industry in Africa is growing, but it faces many challenges, such as the lack of footing and investment, lack of awareness, and competition from other media. However, it offers a vibrant and diverse space of chances for innovation, teamwork and social change. So in this article, we will explore some of the trends, challenges, and opportunities for independent podcasters in Africa, and how the industry is doing so far.

Listenership Popularity of Podcasts in Africa

A study by Reuters shows that about 40 per cent of “more educated” audiences in urban South Africa and Kenya are monthly podcast users. However, “getting error-free information on podcast consumption is hard. Podcast subscriptions are not necessarily related to consumption.” Nic Newman, Senior Research Associate at Reuters Institute, says.

In a 2022 research report by Africa Podfest and Baraza Media Lab, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa maintained their ranks as the three largest podcast markets in Africa. This indicates that podcasting is growing more rapidly in these countries than in other African countries. Independent podcasters in Africa can capitalize on this opportunity to create content for new markets, regardless of their location.

Reasons for Podcasting in Africa

Additionally, the 2022 report says there are over 1,000 active podcasts in these countries. And they cover a wide range of content, from news, politics,  and entertainment to ignite the thrill of being African, to culture, education, and health as informative tools. Other niches include entrepreneurship, lifestyle, comedy, sports, history, fitness, and development. The report also identified some key triggers of podcasting in Africa.

Sharing Underrepresented or Misrepresented Stories and Perspectives in Traditional Media

Podcast creators are free to express their views and experiences in their own voice and style, without being limited by editorial policies or government censorship. And listeners are also free to engage with this content through feedback, comments, participation, reading credits, contributed anecdotes, etc. This creates a space for dialogue and empowerment for marginalized groups and individuals in Africa.

Creating  A Community of Podcasters and Listeners for Interaction

Creating a community of podcasters and listeners is a key strategy for African podcasters who want to grow their audience and impact. First, it helps them to understand their audience better to tailor content to their needs and likes. Second, it’s a way of getting feedback and ideas from listeners. This helps to improve their podcast quality and reach. Thirdly, it fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty among the listeners. This loyalty encourages listeners to share the podcast with others and support the podcaster financially if need be. A community of podcasters is there to support the growth of each other’s podcasts through sharing tips, endorsements, and informative get-togethers like workshops and podfests.

Expressing Oneself Creatively and Authentically

Several African podcasts are published in English, spoken by half of 54 countries in Africa. African podcasters also make content in national languages like Kiswahili, Yoruba, isiZulu, and more. African creators find podcasts good media for airing the diversity and richness of African culture through vernacular podcasts, oral tradition, etc. These can cover a wide range of topics, from arts and entertainment to politics and social issues, education and health. Podcasts can also challenge stereotypes and misbeliefs about Africa, by offering alternative stories and perspectives that reflect the reality of the continent. Thus, in Africa, podcasts are a media of creative expression that empowers and inspires both creators and listeners in African culture. Audiences use vernacular podcasts for cultural preservation, to learn or improve their native language skills, and consolidate their identity and heritage.

Generating Income or Boosting a Brand or Cause

Podcasts are a cheap and high-impact way to create and share content that brings about income or supports a brand or cause. Podcasters can partner with funders, advertisers, platforms or networks that align with their values and goals. Podcasts can also use their influence to raise awareness, educate, inspire or support a brand or cause that they believe in. One of the best examples is the Africana Woman Podcast, which helps women achieve self-love, success and health.

Women working together in stereo

Challenges in African Podcasting

However, it’s worth noting that the journey to podcasting has not been an easy one, especially for independent podcasters in Africa. These creators face various challenges that hinder the growth and sustainability of the podcasting industry.  Some of these challenges include:

Lack of Awareness and Understanding of Podcasts Among the General Public

Most Africans know little or nothing about podcasts. For instance, 25% of Kenyans are aware of what podcasts are. This is unlike in South Africa, where the rate of awareness and use of podcasts is greater. 48% of audiences in densely populated urban areas are aware of podcasts, and 36% listen to a podcast. Meanwhile, because of popular podcasts like ‘I Said What I Said’ and ‘Articulate One, Nigerians are slowly becoming aware of podcasts. This shows that the need to spread awareness and promote podcasts still remains high.

Inadequate Data to Measure the Potential of the African Podcasting Industry

It is often difficult to determine the extent of podcasts’ potential in Africa. This is because there is a lack of detailed research, covering all African countries and areas. The research collects data from an agreed sample size, leaving other areas untouched. Africa has 54 countries, and Podcast industry researchers only survey a few. For instance, some of Africa Podfest’s studies are limited to South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. This is a challenge because podcasters are unable to explore other possible viable podcast markets in Africa. According to the Creative Vibrancy Index, Africa’s countries boast of a vibrant culture and history, with so many untold stories that have the potential to attract audiences.

The availability and access to arts, culture and creativity is increasingly the mark of a successful city and developed economy. For us at Africa No Filter it is also a measure of the support and infrastructure provided to African storytellers to enable them to share their stories, grow audiences and build their own sustainability as artists. We were keen to understand how culturally vibrant the African creative sector is, so we know if African stories are being heard. This index will shine a much-needed spotlight on the state of the creative landscape in Africa and help us all advocate for more support for storytellers on the continent. We have started with just 12 cities, but our aim is to do this across all major cities on the continent.”

Moky Makura, Executive Director of Africa No Filter

Limited or No Access to the Internet

The 2022 Africa Podfest report also indicates that internet use in Africa is increasing steadily and slowly. So far, 59% of South Africans, 42% of Nigerians and 39% of Kenyans own a smartphone and use the internet occasionally. Despite this, limited or no access to affordable and reliable internet connectivity, devices, and equipment are still a challenge for some podcasters in Africa.

Limited Chances of Monetization, Sponsorship and Advertising Opportunities

Podcasters, especially beginners, face difficulties in monetizing podcasts as well as finding sponsors or advertisers. Podcasters have to be consistent with their shows and engage with listeners before advertisers can recognize their podcasts. Also, sponsorship or investment from both private businesses or government is hard to come by. Other pressing challenges include little or no professional training and mentorship for podcast production and distribution, as well as tough competition from already fixed media outlets and international podcasts.

Opportunities for African Podcasters

Podcasting is here to take over Africa. However difficult it is, African independent podcasters have opportunities to leverage their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. Here are some of the things that podcasters do to overcome their weaknesses:

  • They collaborate with other podcasters and media organizations to create networks and partnerships
  • They also eagerly explore alternative platforms and formats to reach new audiences and markets
  • They create niche and local content that caters to the specific interests and needs of listeners
  • They take advantage of the power of  social media and word-of-mouth to promote podcasts and build loyalty
  • They seek funding and support from podcasting companies, independent donors, foundations, or crowdfunding plans

The Impact African Independent Podcasters Make and (Why You Should Care)

The podcasting industry in Africa has a bright future so far. African independent podcasters add to the diversity and quality of the entire African media outlook. These creators develop a space for talks, education, and entertainment for their listeners. Meanwhile, the media space is always changing. Different kinds of media are created by improving old versions through features or purpose or by creating new media.

As the podcasting industry continues to grow in Africa, independent podcasters need to grow with it. They can adapt to the changing environment and find innovative ways to sustain their passion and profession. More so, they need to find more ways to ensure that listeners are still listening to their content. 

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