The future of podcasting Kenya

Spotify has launched a continental podcast initiative to support podcasters in Africa.

In Summary
  • Dubbed the 'Africa Podcast Fund', four Kenyans were selected as beneficiaries of the Sh12 million fund by Spotify.

  • The music streaming platform is committed to growing the careers of African creators through on and off-platform programmes.

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PODCASTING Rado microphone

Podcasting in Kenya is steadily growing and has a strong future.

However, podcasters feel like a whole lot more still needs to be done to uplift the space, even as they cite the high cost of recording for emerging creators. 

Podcasters have dynamic way of showcasing content on their platforms, with topics ranging from general life, to talks on finance, football, marriage life, relationships, interviews, religion and even science, among others. 

SemaBox CEO Dan Aceda said that there will be more diversification of Kenyan content as more people jump into the podcast space. 

“We will diversify overtime. The amount of content created should not be a worry,”Aceda said, adding that most emerging podcasts have similar genres.

“Podcasts coming out now take the interview or banter format. We need to do more storytelling — fiction and non-fiction.”

Sandwich podcasters George Nyamita, Joan Melly, Owen Njuguna and Tony Kibet said that Kenya is yet to hit its peak but is progressing very well in the podcasting space.

“People talk about a wide range of things on their podcast,” Nyamita, who is a student at Strathmore Universty and identifies as a social media influencer, said.

However, Owen, who is a student at the Boma Institute, said a majority of podcasts in Kenya tend to lean more toward the corporate scene by having corporate guests.

“We managed to corner the market, especially with our audience when we focused more on delivering quality content,” Owen said.

He said that podcasters in Kenya are more focused on the visual aesthetics instead of the actual content.

As part of the great transition, Joan said that women are developing well in this space.

“I really would love to see more women jump into the podcasting scene,” she said.

The four strongly believe that podcasting is here to replace radio.

“In the near future, more people will now be invested in listening to podcasts as compared to radio,” Joan, who is an influencer and a KCA student, said.

Nyamita echoes her sentiments, saying that, while radio is more analog, podcasting is digital.

“When in an uber [taxi], most of the time people are on their phones. No one is looking at billboards. Sometimes the driver is [on] his playlist and not the radio,” he said.

The four said that nowadays they hardly listen to radio unless forcefully when they are using public transport.

Of the four, Owen is the only who occasionally enjoys listening to radio, with Homeboyz being one of his favourites.

“Radio has a lot of censorship, whereas podcasting gives people the free will to speak their minds,” Nyamita said, with Owen adding that radio shows have a predictable pattern.

“It is easy to know what is going to be said next,” Owen said.

Kibet added that in Africa, Kenya is doing well in the podcasting space.

“Although podcasting can be for the rich sometimes, there are new creators who are investing in it,” he said.

As a way of building a sustainable and inclusive podcasting industry across Africa, Spotify launched its first-of-its-kind continental podcast initiative.

Dubbed the 'Africa Podcast Fund', four Kenyans were selected as beneficiaries of the Sh12 million fund by Spotify.

The music streaming platform is committed to growing the careers of African creators through on and off-platform programmes.

The fund seeks to support creators in the podcast space through financial grants, workshops and networking opportunities to further amplify their stories.

The selected four are Sandwich podcast hosted by Nyamita, Joan, Owen and Kibz, The Messy In Between hosted by Murugi Munyi and Lydia Mukami, hosted by Eli Mwenda and Oscar Koome and Nipe Story hosted by Kevin Mwachiro.

These four are among a group of 13 that were selected from across Africa.

The fund will be offered to select creators from other African countries with large podcast listenership.

These include Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

It will also include a Cameroonian podcast with large listenership in both France and Francophone African countries such as the Ivory Coast.

The winning podcasts are recorded in English, French, Ga, Pidgin, Sheng and Twi.

The other podcasts include Si Maman M’avait Dit (Cameroon), Sincerely Accra (Ghana), I Said What I Said, Tea with Tay and F&S Uncensored (Nigeria), After School Is After School with Sis G.U, The Journey Kwantu, Wisdom &Wellness with Mpoomy Ledwaba and Convos &Cocktails with Lesego Tlhabi (South Africa).

The fund will be administered by Africa Podfest, a Kenyan-based company focused on inspiring and elevating African podcasters.

"Africa Podfest is excited about the development of podcasting in Africa, particularly because the medium allows underrepresented African voices to tell the story of Africa,” Africa Podfest CEO Melissa Mbugua said.

The Sandwich podcast, which is infused with a little bit of humour, and delivered in English, Kiswahili and Sheng, has topics revolving around the different life experiences of the the four young creatives and guests they feature.

The podcast has 102 official episodes on all streaming platforms from a total of 120 that constitute special episodes.

They also have a total of 689,000 streams on all podcast platforms, each episode ranging from 8,000 to 10,000 streams, with their most listened to episode having 12,000 streams.

The idea behind their podcast was to move their group conversations to a space that has an audience.

“We have a lot of laughable conversations but we started the podcast jokingly in 2019. We recorded our first podcast on July 31, 2020,” Nyamita said.

“Owen and I were friends from high school. We later became friends with Nyamita and thereafter Joan joined us. I, however, knew Joan from way back. She later became friends with the rest of the team and that’s how we became friends," Kibet said.

Joan said that everything they say in their episodes is relatable.

“The audience we mostly reach are individuals within our age bracket. We don’t want people to feel alone,”she said, adding that their target audience is those aged between 18 and 25 years.

“We aim to discuss things that people relate to. Even when we start every episode we start by asking ‘how was your day?’ We want to cover as many topics as we can,” Nyamita said.

This whole idea brought about the name Sandwich.

The team said their lowest moment happened after their first live show that took place on August 25 last year they "lost money and sank into debt."

Nyamita said that a friend betrayed them but their second live show turned out to be a success.

“We became the first group to do a live show in Kenya and the second one became the biggest show in Kenya in the podcasting scene,” he said.  

Their second show had a total of 703 tickets and totally sold out.

Through the Spotify fund, the team is really excited and hopeful that they will continue growing.

“The fund is going to help so many podcasts. It will help us to plan for our future live shows. I support it 100 per cent,” Owen said.

Through the fund, the team said that they felt validated, seen and appreciated.

Owen said that the announcement of the podcast funding sparked a national conversation all over social media.

“People started knowing things about podcasting and the type of podcasters that are in Kenya,” he said.

Joan said that for Kenya to be selected among all the East African countries meant that the country is doing well.

“This means that we are doing something right and we are in the right space,” she added.

Joan said the announcement made the team reach out to the other podcasters who are part of the fund.

“Apart from live shows, through the fund, we will be able to collaborate and interact with others in this space,” she said.

“Not many people do podcasting in Africa and this was a good way to get more people come into this industry.”

Joan said that more companies coming up to fund podcasters in their journey sheds light on the future of podcasting.

Aceda, however, said that Spotify should have given more money.

“Semabox is investing more money than what is being offered by Spotify,” he said.

“They should match us. We have invested in over 70 creators. Some podcasts we have invested as much as sh two million.”

He said that the platform has 325 million users every month.

“I am glad that they are giving recognition to local creators but frankly speaking they can give 10 times the amount they are offering,” the SemaBox CEO said. 

He also said that Spotify can afford such an amount for podcasts in Africa.

Meanwhile, Kibet said that the Spotify fund will go a long way in building their journey in the industry.

"There was a time we started off and were not earning anything but now we have grown,” he said.

The four have called on the government to support creators and lower the costs of recording podcasts.

“Recoding a session, four people for one episode costs Sh 36,000. That is someone’s salary,” Owen said.

The four are, however, open to the idea of partnering with other creators to elevate this industry.


(edited by Amol Awuor)

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