The online audio revolution in Africa

For decades people have been able to carry their music – first with the boombox, then the Walkman, Discman, MP3 players and now their phones, but the same hasn’t really been true for audio content at the talk format in Africa.

Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy – General Manager SSA, Spotify


Audio dramas, panel discussions and interviews have, with few exceptions, been a job for radio, but podcasting on the continent is embarking on a storytelling revolution.

While radio remains an essential medium on the continent (even in South Africa, its most developed economy, 80% of the population listens to the radio at least once a week), the podcast offers African creators a new way to tell their stories.

From Johannesburg to Nairobi, Accra and Lagos, these creators are starting conversations about their lives and work while tackling issues like gender norms and social challenges head-on.

Create fertile ground for growth

Initially, podcasting in Africa lagged behind the rest of the world where podcasting really started to take off around 2010. In contrast, South Africa’s first high-profile podcasting house, CliffCentral (incidentally founded by former radio host Gareth Cliff), was only created in 2014.

But falling data costs and Africa’s mobile population have created fertile ground for podcasting to grow. As a result, the number of people creating and consuming podcasts on the continent continues to grow.

In Kenya, for example, of the 40% of the population with internet access, 99.7% have a smartphone. In Nigeria, meanwhile, those same figures stand at 50% and 99.5% respectively. More importantly, the cost of connectivity is falling across much of the continent. While mobile data remains expensive in many places, several African countries (Cameroon, Ghana, Libya, Morocco and South Africa) have reached the United Nations’ “1 for 2” accessibility target: 1 GB of data for an average monthly income of 2% maximum. in 2021.
A growing number of submarine cables linking the continent to the rest of the world means that fixed and mobile connection prices will continue to fall.

The pandemic and the ubiquitous use of video conferencing tools has also meant that people have become increasingly comfortable with this technology, allowing them to connect and talk with people all over the world. At the same time, off-the-shelf tools for podcasters like specialized microphones and audio editing software have become more affordable and easier to use.

#AfricaMonth: Building the next generation of African media brands

At Spotify, we are committed to playing our part in this revolution by lowering barriers for African creators, empowering them to launch a career in audio, regardless of their financial backing, career path or where they live. We are also committed to celebrating African creators by showcasing the sounds of Africa taking to the global stage.

An exceptional storytelling

Africa has a long history of oral storytelling and podcasting provides a global platform for these exceptional storytellers to share their lives, thoughts and experiences with the world.

i said what i said, for example, is hosted by entrepreneur Feyikemi Abudu and storyteller Jola Ayeye, and tells stories about Lagos’ millennial experience in an honest, engaging and fun way. Also produced in Nigeria, Tea with Tay is hosted by Taymesan and covers societal issues and personal experiences with celebrities and other guests in a fun, light and entertaining way.

from Kenya The Sandwich Podcast, meanwhile, is presented in a mix of English, Swahili and sheng, Kenya’s local slang, and is hosted by four creatives discussing their life experiences. In the same spirit is After school is after school with Sis GU. Produced in South Africa and hosted by Gugulethu Nyatsumba, she uses the show to speak more openly and honestly about the struggles she continues to face in her twenties.

Mantalk.ke offers a more serious rate. Hosted by Eli Mwenda and Oscar Koome, the show tackles a range of issues such as fatherhood, feminism, dating and self-care in an engaging way. The podcast aims to highlight positive forms of masculinity rather than the more toxic forms that dominate media narratives.

True crime is one of the most popular genres in podcasting, and True Crime South Africahosted by Nicole Engelbrecht, covers real cases of solved and unsolved crimes in South Africa.

Sharing the sound of Africa

African creators are doing amazing things in the audio space and around the world. Their stories help others find their passions and their voices. They are teachers, friends and companions in people’s daily journeys. They are ambassadors of the continent, sharing the sounds of Africa. And, at Spotify, we’re committed to helping them do just that.

Sylvia B. Polson