Podcasting in Africa — A Need for Strong Partnerships
In 2022, it is my impression that few people aka those living under a rock would not know what a podcast is. Spotify expanded in Africa last year with the aim to work and sustain their podcasting business with a product that can be developed in official languages as well as local ones. Even seeing Burundi on the list, I was happy to see that the company saw potential in our nation with its 12 million citizens.
Since then, I have been trying to work on partnerships with African companies in order to consolidate my position but also elevate the product that is podcasting. I have been producing Parole & Sporteve podcasts (Parole french for Word) since 2020 via Boyi Studios, it is true at the beginning there was a lot of energy needed to explain what I was working on and why I was producing podcasts.
Fast forward to 2021 and with a little help from fellow podcaster Joe Rogan, people heard more about this new industry thanks to an exclusive contract signed by Mr Rogan with Spotify. Having been in the podcast world as a consumer for more than a decade, I realize that companies need to catch up with this trend.
Through the people I have met when interviewing them on the Parole podcast, my take is that some companies are just clueless and others are simply waiting for some to pioneer in this space.
For the African ecosystem to thrive and to sustain quality, African companies need to step up and collaborate with content creators. Obviously not every partnership is the right one but having those initial conversations in order to explain the purpose of one podcast, its target and its reach is essential. For us, podcasters, it is all about the numbers of course, this industry is about data and thanks to social media, we are able to reach new territories through the power of a reel for example. What I have experienced in the last 18 months is that we do not know who we are speaking to and how we are being influential.
Do I believe that in the near future, a podcaster will be able to sign a deal similar to Mr Rogan’s or even more? I do.
When I think of Nigeria, Ethiopia, DRC, Kenya or South Africa, those spaces are yet to be conquered by one or two heavyweights; podcasters are able to produce their shows in several languages, therefore, reach a broader audience.
When talking with Molly Jensen, the CEO of Afripods, a company that aims to “amplify African stories” digitally, she acknowledged that as an English speaker, not every podcast is targeted to her but having lived in Nairobi for some time, she endeavors to learn Swahili.
Same for me, both my podcasts are produced in English & French (more episodes are in English), for some reasons, I find French speaking people to be more publicity averse. We are changing that no worries.
What if tomorrow I decided to produce a podcast in Kirundi where Burundians and Rwandans will have access. The potential market is about 26 million.
Where do the African partners come in?
From the get go, Africa has always been a place of oral history, then the radio, now with internet or web3 if we are looking ahead, podcasting is a way to advertise products. In my case, I have had foreign i.e Western companies willing to partner with me and not one African on the waiting list. Let’s remind the listener that producing a podcast comes at a cost and in these times where prices are getting higher and higher, someone’s got to pay the bills.
Spotify, Netflix, Audible or Google have given to the content creator a flexibility and a creative environment to play with; however I’d love to see more of our successful companies working hand in hand with us. If Spotify can see a market in Burundi and Rwanda, I hope our Brarudi/Bralirwa, hospitality groups, tech companies etc will jump with them in this adventure.
At last, I am happy to be able to travel again, this means meeting new people, interviewing them without a difficult internet connection; thinking about getting new microphones, setting a studio where guests will join me, all of this for more episodes to be released.
Here’s to new and strong partnerships in 2022.
You can listen to the episode with Molly Jensen wherever you listen to podcasts but lets do this one on Afripods.