Molly Jensen’s dream is to build the largest library of African audio stories.
By Alastair Hagger
Tune into the frequency of African radio and the signal is clear – no other medium has reached more people on this continent or resonated more deeply. From the earliest broadcasts in 1920s South Africa to the post-colonial, continent-wide explosion in radio services in the 1960s, to the establishment of the first private commercial station in Burkina Faso in 1987, Africa has long been wired for sound.
But the reach of the airwaves has never been matched by the depth of revenue streams enjoyed by radio stations abroad. Into this aural breach steps the podcast – a medium set to re-dial Africa’s relationship with the broadcast word from passive to thrillingly proactive.
Molly Jensen is CEO of Afripods, a free pan-African podcast hosting platform based in Nairobi.
“My vision is to build the largest library of African audio stories on the planet,” she says.
“We have created an advertising funnel for audio on-demand content, and built a robust library of stories, categorized in up to 50 languages, from the continent and diaspora. We focus on the technical infrastructure, which positions us as the leading platform capturing market share in the region.”
Though Africa’s internet access is the least affordable in the world, according to the AIA (Affordable Internet Alliance), rapid and inevitable network evolution and improvement is already positioning the podcast as an irresistible opportunity for advertisers and creators alike.
“Podcasting is still very much in its infancy on the continent, and advertisers are still learning how to quantify the value of a highly niched group of people and their audiences,” says Jensen. “But an ecosystem like podcasting, which is based on orated content, taps into generations of storytelling, modernizing it in digital communities. The impact of audio-first media cannot be overstated, and podcasting is an exciting extension.”
This ecosystem is growing exponentially as influencers expand into new verticals, and festival and platform pioneers such as Africa Podfest, SemaBOX, Gold Coast Report, The Podcast Sessions and APVA (The Association of African Podcasters and Voice Artists) create dynamic new synergies.
“It’s exciting to see vernacular content grow, because it sheds a light on the rich diversity of Africa, as mother tongues become less common, with podcasting being used as a vehicle to memorialize culture,” she says. “And we are also at an interesting moment in history where Africa is no longer just consuming the narrative of what is cool, but creating it – and exporting culture to a global stage.”