By Dagem Mekonnen
The story of Gugut Podcast began in the early months of 2020, amid a significant global rise in podcast popularity. By the end of 2019, Spotify hosted more than half a million podcasts on its platform, with expectations to triple that number in 2020.
This period also coincided with the impact of COVID-19. As people spent more time at home during the pandemic, they increasingly sought engaging and productive activities. Podcasts emerged as an enjoyable and productive way to pass the time, especially for those working from home, providing an entertaining and engaging listening experience.
Despite the availability of international content, there was a growing demand for local content in Ethiopia. People wanted to hear stories from their peers and learn about their experiences, which led some to create podcasts with locally relevant content. This trend reflected a desire for a more personalized, authentic, and engaging way to consume media. In response, we launched the Gugut Podcast to produce audio-only content.
However, user numbers on audio platforms were not promising, so we shifted our main distribution to YouTube that same year. Before us, other podcasters released their content on a mix of platforms, such as Telegram channels and YouTube.
In addition to the growing local demand, improving internet access in Ethiopia has also played a role in the rise of podcasting. Ethio Telecom has lowered prices for its fixed-line broadband customers, including residential customers, while also improving mobile internet access by launching 4G services in parts of the country for the first time outside Addis Ababa. The company has additionally introduced special rates, including for data packages, incentivizing people to stay indoors.
These several factors have come together to create a fertile landscape for the emergence of podcasts as an increasingly popular form of media in Ethiopia. Since our launch, Gugut Podcast has produced around 100 episodes and garnered over 2 million views on our channel.
So Podcasts …?
Essentially, a podcast is an episodic series of spoken-word audio files that are available for download or streaming. The growing interest in podcasts is reflected in the global number of podcast listeners, which reached a new high in 2022 with over 400 million consumers worldwide, accounting for approximately 10% of all internet users.
Podcasting in Ethiopia is relatively new and offers a limited number of podcasts covering a wide range of topics. However, in recent years, several popular Ethiopian podcasts have emerged, each with its own unique focus and appeal.
For instance, Zemach FM is an Amharic tech podcast that focuses on technological advancements in Ethiopia and around the world. Tarik: The Ethiopian History Podcast aims to educate listeners about Ethiopia’s fascinating history by delivering content in English. Meri Podcast, a business-oriented podcast, shares local stories and content to stimulate growth in the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Ethiopia by featuring successful individuals discussing their stories and business topics.
Gugut Podcast, on the other hand, offers education and entertainment by focusing on various social, business, and philosophical ideas relevant to ordinary people’s daily lives. The increasing popularity of podcasting in Ethiopia is expected to give rise to a plethora of new podcasts, covering a wide range of topics and catering to a diverse audience.
What’s the future like?
The audio content industry has transformed considerably due to digitization, with the emergence of podcasts having the potential to be as disruptive to traditional radio as video content on platforms such as YouTube was to traditional TV.
As the popularity of podcasting grows in Ethiopia, producing high-quality content that stands out from the competition can be a difficult task. Luckily, AI has become a valuable tool for podcast producers, with ways to streamline and enhance various aspects of production processes. By using AI for content research, editing, transcription, and data analysis, producers can save time, and effort and improve the quality of their podcasts significantly.
However, producing great content is not enough to keep a podcast relevant and successful. To remain engaging, podcasters should consider content distribution across multiple platforms, engage with their audience, and consider recruiting guests who fit their audience’s interests.
Once they produce an episode, promoting it across all relevant channels and platforms, including social media and relevant websites, is essential. Engaging with the audience, hearing feedback, and responding to it will help improve the content, build loyalty with listeners, and encourage them to share the content. Teraki, an audiobook and podcast startup, is one example of how collaborations can help further develop the podcasting industry.
Finally, recruiting guests will help keep the podcast fresh and engaging and expand the audience.
Dagem Mekonnen is the co-founder and co-host of Gugut Podcast, as well as a tech enthusiast and software developer. For any inquiries, you can reach him via email at [email protected].