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January 16, 2023

Podcasts get Africans talking on partnership

By Otiato Opali, Nairobi, Kenya. First published in China Daily

With increasing interaction and exchanges between Africa and China in different fields, bilateral relations have been a popular topic for discussion in various African media in recent years.

In addition to conventional media such as newspapers and television, podcasts have proved to be the new platform for constructive dialogue that increases mutual understanding between people in China and Africa.

Josephine Karianjahi, an international development consultant and podcast host from Kenya, said podcasts are taking root in the online scene in Africa, and African-produced podcasts have been around for over a decade. However, their numbers have grown steadily over the past five years.

"When we look back at the history of podcasting in Africa, we will see 2020 as a year of African podcast launches and a substantial rise in interest in African podcasting. Significant work and life changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant that more producers could carve out time to create and tell stories through podcasts," Karianjahi said.

This new platform has provided an opportunity for people across Africa to constructively discuss issues affecting China-Africa relations. In a 51-minute podcast aired recently by one of the leading podcasts on China-Africa relations, The China in Africa Podcast discussed the United States and China's technology competition in Africa.

"The US is finding it hard to convince countries like those in Africa to join in its technological war against China and we fear the US might start arm-twisting African nations through instruments like trade restrictions to attain compliance," Cobus van Staden, a managing editor based in South Africa, said during the podcast.

Broad cooperation

"Despite saying they are not forcing people to choose, the US is not ready to accommodate countries that, for example, work with Huawei systems. However, a company like Huawei is partnering with African countries beyond technology to areas like renewable energy and this is where the US overtures are self-defeatist."

Another popular podcast is the China Africa Talk, a weekly podcast dedicated to bringing a better understanding of what is happening on the African continent and in China from both the African and Chinese perspectives.

Earlier this month, one podcast episode looked at the cooperation between Chad and China from the perspective of a Chadian student. This was held as this year marks the 50th anniversary of China-Chad diplomatic relations.

In a special live podcast hosted by the Africa-China Reporting Project, which is part of the Wits Centre for Journalism at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, a panel of journalists and analysts explored emerging trends and myths in China-Africa relations.

In the podcast, panelist Sisi Mi, a China-based researcher and data journalist, said the way Africans are seen on Chinese social media has evolved over the years and many Chinese see Africans as resilient and hardworking. Success stories about China-Africa partnerships are also making their way into the conversation.

Karianjahi, who mainly runs podcasts on issues affecting women, said though it is at the nascent stage, the growth of podcasts in Africa is unstoppable.

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