Announcing the winner of the first BBC World Service International Podcast Competition

The BBC World Service’s first International Podcast Competition has been won by 38-year-old development sector worker Namulanta Kombo from Kenya. Launched earlier this year, the competition was open to non-broadcast/podcast professionals from Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. There was a fantastic response, with almost 1000 entries.

The BBC World Service will now help Namulanta, who has never made a podcast before, to bring her idea to life as a 15-part podcast, to be launched later this year The winning idea, “To My Daughter” (working title), came from Namulanta’s decision to start writing letters to her young daughter. The podcast will hear experiences, anecdotes and advice from mothers across Africa, and around the world, that they want to share with their daughters.

Speaking about her winning entry, Namulanta said: “Facing aging and seeing myself reflected in my daughter, I worried about what would happen if I was not around to help her navigate through life, or if I was there but she felt that she could not talk to me. I started toying with the idea of writing her a ‘handbook to life’ that would gather anecdotes from the people around us.”

“I asked friends and family to write letters to the women in their lives, and considered the best way to get these letters out to the world. The BBC competition came about and I saw it as an opportunity to put my thoughts together and structure my idea.”

The competition was looking for a creative and original podcast idea. 

The BBC’s Director General, Tim Davie said: “The BBC was looking for podcast ideas that would resonate with women around the world. We were overwhelmed by the breadth and quality of the entrants.  Within that excellent field, one idea stood out. Namulanta Kombo’s podcast will curate letters from women across the world to their daughters. It’s a wonderful idea with huge potential. I can’t wait to hear the first episode.”

Namulanta was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and has spent the last nine years working in the development sector on projects affecting Kenyans and supporting government agencies on monitoring, evaluation and policy work. She also works directly with children, running a play centre to promote learning through messy and imaginative play as well as planning national art competitions and family fun days.

The judges noted the high standard of entries, which were whittled down to a shortlist of ten, including entrants from all three of the eligible countries.

This final round judges panel comprised:

  • Kenyan Paula Rogo founder of Kali Media and co-founder of the Africa Podfest
  • South African Jedi Ramalapa of the pioneering Sound Africa
  • Nigerian FayFay (Odudu Efe), who has built a community of over 1,500 podcasters in Nigeria with Naija Pod Hub
  • Jon Manel, Podcast Commissioning Editor, BBC World Service (Chair)  
  • Mary Hockaday, Controller, BBC World Service English
  • Jonny Kanagasooriam, Senior Planning Manager, BBC Sounds
  • Sharon Machira, BBC TV & radio presenter and podcaster in Kenya

Paula Rogo said of the winning entry: “It was a simple idea with universal appeal.  It is something all African women, but also women worldwide, will connect with. I appreciated the creative grit I saw in some entries. There were some ideas, if given the right amount of money and backing, that could be spectacular once they came to life.”

Namulanta’s podcast is scheduled to launch in December 2021.

The competition will return in early 2022 – details of eligible countries to follow.

For further information or interviews please email:

[email protected] or [email protected]

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