Touted as the first podcast event to bring together Africans from across the continent and the world, the Africa Podcast Festival gets underway in Kenya on Friday. The gathering will connect thousands to the world of podcasts and show them how to get into the popular medium, organisers say.
This year’s theme is: “We’re proud to be here!” which encapsulates the energy and interest in podcasts coming from the African continent.
The Africa Podcast Festival, which starts aptly on 12 February, World Podcast Day, is an effort to get more people listening and creating podcasts for an African audience, says Melissa Mbugwa, one of the co-directors of the festival.
“It’s at that point now that people need to connect and organise in order to take the industry to the next level,” she says. “Over the next few years we expect to see more organisation around the podcasting community and podcasting on the continent.”
African voices creating access to their communities through podcasting is a way for communities to connect in their own local languages too. Mbugwa says a number of new podcasts are popping up to attract new listeners on the continent and even in the diaspora.
“Languages that are widely spoken on the continent are Swahili, Arabic, Amharic, Yoruba, Zulu… We are starting to see quite a number of them popping up – this is an expectation we have of the future of the podcasting industry, is that we will have many languages, an uninhibited by the language barrier,” says Mbugwa.
These podcasts are attracting new listeners on the continent and even in the diaspora.
African podcast challenges
Creating a podcast for an African audience is not without its challenges, says Josephine Karianjahi, co-director of the Africa Podcast Festival.
Many people listen to podcasts on their Android cell phones, which means some, which are only available on Apple’s platform, are inaccessible.
“There is also a huge challenge in the cost of data to be able to access the net and to be able to download episodes whenever you might need to,” says Karianjahi, noting that data can be very prohibitive across different African countries.
“Sometimes there isn’t an equal amount of electricity coming to your area, so you might have podcasts you want to produce but they may not have a regular schedule nor be able to record at the time you wish to record – these things can be quite frustrating.”
African Podcast Festival events
The all-inclusive event will include talks given by staff at This is Africa podcast about setting up their Africa Queer Radio Project, which trains LGBTI+ activists and groups to use podcasting skills for advocacy work.
A panel on voices that are heard in Africa will include Kenyan speakers Stoneface Bombaa & April Zhu from Kenya’s Until Everyone is Free podcast, and Gushin Mc Gush & Kenyan Mwangi from Dandora Hiphop City podcast.
For those interested in learning how to record for a podcast, two workshops are being given on tips and tricks for recording. A community event hosted by Angolan podcaster Vicente Paxtomás will also speak about who listens to podcasts in Luanda.
Laura-Angela Bagnetto, the host of RFI’s weekly Africa news podcast, Africa Calling, will also be giving a talk at the festival on how the podcast aims to include African voices from all parts of the continent.