Africa Podfest is a pioneering podcast company that is actively placing a spotlight on African podcasters and shedding light on diverse African perspectives and experiences.
Led by co-directors Josephine Karianjahi and Melissa Mbugua, this company has created a name for itself with its incredibly successful event called Africa Podcast Day which aims to bring podcasters together both physically and virtually to share and receive information regarding Africa’s current podcasting space.
They also had a Discovery Tour where they traveled to different countries in Africa, namely Kenya, Zambia, South Africa and Nigeria where they collaborated with different people “to showcase some of the rich diversity of pods and stories from across the continent”.
At the moment Africa Podfest is one of the only companies actively doing research on all things podcasting in the African space, their research “explores podcasters’ needs, audience engagement, industry shapers, technological enablers, emerging policy platforms, as well as sustainability models.”
Africa Podfest is currently conducting a survey in order to help map out both the current and future podcast listeners through a Discovery Tour: Data Edition. Participants are encouraged to answer a series of questions which will give Africa Podfest an idea of the Kenyan, South African and Nigerian listenership.
We interviewed Josephine and Melissa about this survey to get an idea of what they plan to achieve and how this will help podcasters on the African continent.
- The Podcast Sessions (TPS): When did you start conducting research in Africa?
Josephine and Melissa (J&M): We did our first studies on podcasting in Kenya in 2019 where we focused on audiences in Kenya and the diaspora. However, we have been exploring how podcasts have been taking off in Africa since 2017 and noticing how much people in the podcasting space are in need of reliable information. All our reports are available for free download on our website.
- TPS: What were your initial intentions?
J&M: We wanted to understand what the needs of African podcasters were in order to know how to support their growth. We noticed that podcasters in Africa were mainly in the margins, creating without much support because it is such a new industry. Yet they were serving audiences with fresh narratives and connecting communities using new technologies and this is really interesting when you think about what it means for the future of audio in Africa.
- TPS: Were you inspired by any other research locally or abroad?
J&M: Our benchmarks were the existing industry studies done locally and globally exploring the creative economy. We were inspired by community-driven podcasting research in South America led by our friends at Podcaster@s. We saw the impact that high quality research can have in raising the confidence of players in the new industry.
- TPS: Is there any data on podcasting on the continent available? Or is this the first of its kind?
J&M: There are a few reports by global research firms that touch on podcast audiences in Africa as a part of the wider digital media audience. Additionally, there have been country-focused studies done by independent researchers in several countries such as Nigeria, South Africa and Angola. However, our research is the first on the continent diving deep into the experiences of podcasters and audiences from multiple countries.
- TPS: Why is this information for the African continent important for both investors and podcasters to know?
J&M: It is important to equip podcasters and players in the African podcasting ecosystem with reliable knowledge that helps close the gap between their dream and their course of action as they carry out their work. We make our findings publicly accessible so that we can reach as many people as possible.
- TPS: When can we expect the results?
J&M: We will make the findings available for free access on our website https://www.podcasting.africa/
- TPS: What are you hoping to gather with this research?
J&M: We hope to gain a deeper understanding of the opportunities for sustainable growth of African podcasting as a new media industry.
- TPS: Who are you sampling in your research?
J&M: Our audience survey is really for anyone in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa who listens to podcasts. We are carrying out in-depth interviews with podcast producers, commercial stakeholders and policy-makers.
- TPS: Why are listeners’ salary ranges included in the research?
J&M: We want to understand who the podcast listener is and examine the opportunities for listeners to participate financially in the growth of podcasts.
- TPS: Why are you only looking at Kenya, SA and Nigeria for this research?
J&M: There are podcast hubs in numerous countries in Africa. We have started our research with the three focus countries which have relatively high podcasting activity, from the supply and demand side. We saw this from our previous studies.
- TPS: Do you have plans of expanding this research further?
J&M: We hope to expand our research work and this is only the beginning of our journey of understanding the African context for podcasting and we expect that there will be more questions to explore coming out of this study.
- TPS: How often will you redo this survey to update the information?
J&M: We hope to carry out the audience survey annually.
- TPS: Why would you encourage people to fill in the survey?
J&M: By filling out the survey, you directly contribute towards building the African podcast industry. It is your participation in the research that gives us credible information which informs how podcasters create and promote the stories that you love to hear.
- TPS: When are you closing the survey off?
J&M: The survey closes on April 21.
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