Podcast has evolved over the past two decades becoming a powerful tool in Africa. Photo: Getty / Photo: Getty Images

By Muzhinga Kankinda

Podcasting is a form of digital media that allows people to create and distribute audio or video content over the internet.

Podcasting originated in the early 2000s, a time when portable media players became popular, enabling users to download and listen to audio files.

Two decades down the line, podcasts are increasingly becoming popular and established around the world. They are gaining momentum in Africa becoming a rising medium of communication.

The rise of podcasting in Africa is attributed to several factors. Increased levels of smartphone penetration and internet connectivity have played a significant role.

However, African creatives’ passion for the medium has also contributed to its success. They love the medium because it allows for community building, autonomy, interactions, accessibility, and inclusivity for them and their listeners.

According to research by Africa Podfest, African-produced podcasts have been around for over a decade. They saw a steady and rapid increase between 2017 and 2023, with South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya being the largest podcast markets in the continent.

Promoting inclusion

Meanwhile, the African Podcast Database has been running since 2019 and continues to grow in submissions.

Podcaster Michael Baruti uses his podcasts to address mental health issues in Tanzania. Photo: Baruti

A Podcast have become an integral part of the African media landscape giving African creatives true freedom and rights to express their views with little or no editorial restrictions and government censorship. They have also added value to multimedia Journalism.

According to IJNet reports, podcasts are even helping reporters to curb misinformation in their multimedia newsrooms. To them, podcasts are a valuable medium for credible reportage.

On the other hand, Africa Podfest studies have shown that in many countries and regions, podcasts promote inclusion and representation of marginalised groups, including women, people with disabilities, and native language speakers.

Several listeners affirm that podcasts provide a deeper understanding of complex issues affecting Africa and allow Africans to tell their own stories to challenge stereotypes about the continent and its people. Meanwhile, urban African youths find podcasts relatable as they reflect their interests, struggles, and aspirations.

Celebrating resilience

However, podcasting faces significant barriers in Africa. The high cost of internet data makes podcasts inaccessible for many Africans who rely on mobile phones for internet access.

The coming of podcasting has further opened up the media landscape in Africa. Photo: AA

Furthermore, the lack of infrastructure and equipment for high-quality production hinders any further growth of podcasting

Some people are still unaware of what podcasts are, meaning many podcasters struggle to find and grow their audiences and monetise their content.

However, podcasters in Africa keep on finding ways to achieve podcast awareness.

For instance, there has been a rise of several Africa podcast festivals in many parts of Africa like Nigeria and Egypt and there is Africa Podcast Day, an official day to celebrate the resilience and creativity of African podcasters on February 12 every year.

Furthermore, podcasting offers creatives many opportunities for media innovation and entrepreneurship.

Youth population

According to Josephine Karianjah, co-founder of Africa Podfest, 2020 saw a substantial rise in interest in African podcasting and African podcast launches.

Since then, the number of African podcasts and podcast associations, communities and festivals has continued to rise.

Despite the challenges, Karianjah notes “podcasts offer opportunities for collaboration and learning among African podcasters and with podcasters from other regions.”

With predictions that Africa will have the largest young population by 2050, the future of podcasting looks bright. Africa’s large youth population will be a major audience for podcasts.

Many young Africans use communication opportunities provided by the internet to ensure development. Photo: Reuters

Combined with listeners from other parts of the world, African podcasting is poised to grow into a huge industry.

Transcriptions, captions, websites, artificial intelligence, and video podcasts have also helped podcasting to evolve into a fully inclusive medium of communication.

Conclusively, podcasting is a game-changer for African media. It empowers individual African creatives to tell their stories and perspectives, challenging mainstream media narratives and stereotypes about Africa and Africans.

As such, the medium represents a ‘free media’ in its truest sense. This is why the medium deserves more support in Africa.

Steady growth

Therefore, it is crucial to promote podcasts as a form of media. Veteran podcasters should perpetuate the idea of collaboration in order to help struggling podcasters and beginners thrive in the industry. This will ensure a steady and fast growth of podcasting in the continent.

Meanwhile, podcasting executives and companies as well as governments should work hand in hand with independent podcasters to elevate the rich variety of African stories, which have yet to become standard fare in mainstream media outlets.

Governments can invest in podcasting infrastructure as well as find ways to reduce the high cost of data to increase access to podcasts. Sponsorship, investment and collaboration in storytelling ventures and programs for podcast awareness are also integral.

Listeners also have a part to play by making valuable suggestions on how to improve podcasts to serve them better. By working together, we can help podcasting continue to grow and thrive in Africa.

The author, Muzhinga Kankinda, is a content creator and the co-author of The Economic Case of Investing in Podcasters and Voice Artists.

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT Afrika.

TRT Afrika