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The 36th President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, famously said that, “If you’re not listening, you’re not learning”. It may be a statement of the obvious – but in the digital age where many are quick to tap out an opinion on Twitter or other social media platforms, it is worth remembering the value of listening.

Djembe Insights is a series of reports that demonstrate we listen. Each report is developed by the team at Djembe, reporting what people from all walks of life are saying in African countries on a specific issue that effects lives and livelihoods right across the continent. From the state of education to job creation, the stories and experiences that we listen to when we go out and talk face-to-face with people, provide us with a direct, undiluted, and often passionate insight into the impact that decisions taken by the powerful have on life chances for ordinary Africans.

We have learnt much over the years by working hand-in-glove with people and organisations at the grassroots, from Angola to Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tunisia – and many, many more countries in between. Our aim is to always listen, explore and analyse what we have learned and then draw conclusions and provide a call to action.

The matters that we hear about and report upon in Djembe Insights sometimes reflect a moment in time that eventually passes. Some challenges – such as job creation – remain seemingly intransigent issues. Our Djembe Insights report on job creation in sub-Saharan Africa reflects the ambitions and concerns of the next generation of African leaders – entrepreneurs, university graduates and school leavers. The yearnings, frustrations, hopes and ambitions that we have listened to come from 4,000 young adults and teenagers from multiple countries in sub-Saharan Africa. They show us that there are great concerns about job security, how climate change is affecting industry, the challenges posed by inadequate infrastructure, public policy, corruption, and unequal access to those who are already disadvantaged.

As we assess and analyse what we hear, we’re often able to identify opportunities, challenges and potential solutions, which we are then able to communicate through our well-established network across the continent. Very often there is a clear call to action, which is a useful tool for policy makers and other relevant stakeholders. Others – such as our newly released  Global News Consumption Amidst COVID-19 report provides an up to date analysis of how recent events have changed the world around us. In this report, we lay out the news consumption habits, preferences, and opinions of over 250 global stakeholders. We can see quite clearly that a rapid shift has taken place in how media is viewed, judged, and sourced. The findings have ramifications for journalists, policy makers, writers and organisations that wish to communicate effectively with their audiences.

Global News Consumption Amidst COVID-19 shows us that for many in society, there is a hunger for more insight on what has been taking place. There is a clear shift in appetite away from consuming only mainstream media towards podcasts, online interviews, and investigative journalism. These trends provide enormous opportunities for organisations to refine their approach to communications and build strategies that listen rather than tell. This defines the new normal. We now live in an era of ‘people power’ where the citizen searches for nuance and truth and is less inclined to take what he or she is told at face value. We all want to be heard.

The Djembe Insights reports do just that – they listen and learn: a good maxim for the future as we find our way through the challenges of a post-COVID world.

Mitchell Prather, Chief Executive Officer

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