“Africa needs to invest in its own media, Africa needs to tell its own voices from its own perspective and that’s why I started this podcast,” said Sophie Mbugua, an environmental journalist and podcaster based in Nairobi. Mbugua produces and presents the Africa Climate Conversations Podcast, a podcast that focuses on climate change and the environment in Africa.

Mbugua’s interest in the environment dates back to when she was a child, growing up and learning to harvest alongside her mother and grandmother. “I have always had an interest in nature and the environment,” said Mbugua.

She started the podcast in June 2020, as the world went into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Mbugua found herself with some free time. “I noticed that there was a huge gap in communicating climate issues in Africa. There are three tiers in journalism: a local, regional and international story and when writing for international publications or stories, a lot of local and regional stories are lost,” said Mbugua, emphasising the importance of Africans telling their own stories.

“There is a lot of interest in climate change and environmental issues, which has kept me going,” said Mbugua. “Africa needs to start investing in their own, Africa needs to start investing in its itself,” she said,

Mbugua says that it can be challenging to retain audiences and develop content weekly. “I am still learning how to raise engagement, in terms of content creation I have a very small team.” Mbugua notes that climate change and the environment,  “is not an easy topic to discuss” and adds that she aims “to grow a team of journalists that can report on climate change and environmental issues”.

Mbugua said that she often faces challenges related to money and time. Producing an episode requires time – finding experts and researching a topic extensively and asking the right questions. She also said that podcasting requires money, one has to hire a team and Mbugua’s goal is to have journalists from other countries contributing to the podcast, however, these podcasters need to be paid. At times Mbugua has had to pay for the production of an episode out of her own pocket.

Despite these challenges, Mbugua has found enjoyment in producing these episodes and she expressed the importance of creating stories that involve communities and telling their stories.

She adds that podcasting has been a “learning experience” and advises upcoming podcasters to take it one day at a time.

Mbugua reiterated that “Africa needs to wake up, Africa needs to look within itself, Africa needs to support itself”.

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