Confined to Kisumu, in Western kenya, the journalist and entrepreneur Paula Rogo bends but does not break. The Africa Podfest – first festival of its kind on the continent – that it is co-organizing would have had to be held in Nairobi on 12 and 13 march. Like so many others, the event has been cancelled due to the measures anti-Covid-19. In spite of everything, Paula is optimistic : "The podcast is in full swing. We want to give him a space on the continent, to allow his actors to meet, learn and grow together. "
hundreds of miles from here, in Cairo, Kim Fox proved to be more fortunate. From skimming the thread, Podfest Cairo, of which it ensures the programming, was held on march 7 at the american university. Strong of his experience in radio in the United States and itself a producer of a podcast (Ehky Ya Masr), Kim was able to bring in a member of the National Public Radio (NPR) in the u.s. and bring together over a hundred participants in an environment that she admits to be in its infancy in Egypt : "The podcast of interest, but it is a format that is still poorly known. "
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A dynamic universe that invents
If the podcast is a sector that is already structured in Europe and in the United States, his reality is different on the african continent. More recent initiatives are also more fragmented. In Kenya, the oldest podcast Deeper Sounds of Nairobi, was started by Jack Rooster in 2010. "I was listening to music while working in front of my computer ; I wanted a format that has longevity. The podcast came like that. "His podcast music – 3 hours of electro music in an atmosphere of air travel on the continent has made it possible for Jack to make himself known among musical circles, and toured throughout the world as a DJ. Interestingly, in addition to the broadcast platforms traditional, Rooster latches on to his podcast to a radio station, Homboyz Radio, which he uses in the recording studio.
"On the continent, radio is king," insists Paula Rogo. The radio stations broadcast up to in the countryside more remote. All offer yet not the opportunity to listen to direct on their websites. Most are happy with the same format of talk show and music interspersed with advertising spots. It is this space left vacant by the traditional radio that has invested Adelle Onyango, a former presenter. While she has figures listening to records for his mid-morning show on Kiss FM in Kenya, she launched her podcast Legally Clueless in march 2019 and leave the antenna in June 2019, frustrated by the lack of dynamism in the sector. "I had bought my mics, transformed a part of my home studio work... but I had no idea what I was going to do," recalls does it in a crazy laugh. A few months later, the ideas kept flowing as much as the projects for this podcast that records 5 000 listens per episode : Adelle broadcasts Legally Clueless since the week of may 4, 2020 on Trace FM, a French media recently installed in Kenya, who "leases" the issue. This is not all : the founder of the Adelle Onyango Initiative has also designed and sold to universities in kenyan training to initiate the new generation to the genre. Before the pandemic struck, she was even initiate a "Legally Clueless" on the road ", a tour sponsored by his podcast on the continent.
a success story, the other : AfroQueer, sound documentary sharing the stories of members of the LGBT communities from the continent, has won in January 2019 on the highly competitive Google Podcasts Creators Program. "This has propelled us to the front of the international stage," says its executive producer, the Senegalese-American Selly Thiam. All in an african context where dominate podcasts with notes social, like The Spread on positive sexuality, Living Truthfully, about masculinity, or Otherwise ?, on the current politico-social kenya, to name a few. These successes should not hide the challenges of the continent.
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the challenges Of a new podcast on the continent...
the first of The challenges to the podcasts in Africa : the diversity of languages. For there to have been faced with a double title, Kim Fox confirms. In the context of his podcast, that it was decided to produce in English and in Arabic, but also of his research : "It is the reason why collect data on the podcast is so difficult. "
Yet, what may appear as a barrier is not seen as such by Afripods, application hosting podcasts arrive in 2017 on the african market. On the contrary, defends Gathoni Ngumba, its director of content : "We encourage people to achieve their podcasts in their native language. Because the podcast comes from Europe and the United States, many novice players feel forced to produce in English. But no, if you want to do that in other languages, do so ! There is a hearing. "
The need for training remains at the heart of the problematic of the continent. Beyond the lack of knowledge of the new format that is the podcast, there are difficulties to physical and technological, as well as the strong disparities between countries : the cost of smartphones, the mobile data, the low internet coverage in some campaigns. What is superimposed a lack of infrastructure. The recording equipment is expensive, and studios are not legion. Some podcasters to success rent or lend themselves, moreover, to their apprentices.
Finally, the environment depends on the distribution platforms, all of which are not located on the continent. "The Google and Apple of the world have ignored Africa," recalls Paula Rogo, while blowing that Google, in fact, should not delay entry. But if Spotify prides itself since the end of April to host a million podcasts on its platform, it shines by his absence on the continent.
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... to the broad economic and social potential !
the potential of The podcast is considerable in Africa : not only the radio plays across a full tube, but social networks, hyperactive, and already structured into communities, constitute the relays ideals of podcasters. Added to this is an appetite to the oral culture that coincides with the genre of the podcast. "Storytelling is a part of what we are as Africans ", with enthusiasm and Gathoni Ngumba.
The audio format has the advantage of providing a space of safety, particularly sought-after on the continent. "I share my vulnerabilities, to my sorrow. It is a space absolutely healthy. This is very important, " insists Adelle Onyango. A point of view shared by Selly Thiam to AfroQueer, the content of which on the LGBT community is particularly at risk. Paradoxically, this risk is more the producers of inventiveness. "We have condensed the format of the podcast to make it shareable on WhatsApp. This allows our communities to not feel alone in this troubled period ", takes up Selly.
The social networks, like Instagram, which are heavily used, are essential for the podcasters, which attract new listeners or sometimes produce live shows. Because if the industry still lacks structure, and it evolves quickly. Illustration talking to Kenya, where the Bloggers Association of Kenya has introduced in 2019 category "podcast" in the rewards that it serves annually.
The digital blurs the lines of the podcast and the requests also originate from outside the continent. "The heart of my content focuses on african stories... and there are many Africans in the diaspora !" stresses Adelle. Isn't it by swapping with a friend based in New York that she has been aware of this market ?
The field is open, the stories are not lacking. In the ears of all to enter !
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