Kenya’s Gaming tech start-up, Usiku Games, has launched the first Made-in-Africa video conferencing system that will enable users enjoy better quality calls with unlimited attendees, at more affordable prices.
Dubbed “Gumzo”, a Swahili word for chatting, the service is free for users to attend meetings, and only costs Ksh.100 per week for those who want to host their own meetings. Users are able to pay via Mpesa.
The web-based Gumzo system is also one of the most secure platforms with all calls encrypted ensuring that users’ calls are private and protected.
To avoid the problem of “Zoom Bombing”, Gumzo is also using local phone number verification and real-names to ensure a safe environment for the users. Meeting hosts can review the live video, name and phone number of each attendee before allowing them into the room.
According to Jay Shapiro, the Founder, and CEO, of Usiku Games, Gumzo is Africa’s first innovation in video conferencing built by Kenyan developers who have exhibited a high level of skill in coding and system architecture:
“We are glad to have built this video conferencing system here in Kenya for the continent. This is a turning point in Africa’s innovation since our users will be able to enjoy lower rates, longer talk time, and host many people at the same time without worrying about their security. We have invested heavily in security and creating a better experience compared to the overseas competition.
Mr.Shapiro also points out that the users will enjoy better quality calls, due to the low latency of the high-speed broadband in Africa. “This is supported by the fact that our servers are right here in Africa, which allows for quick and seamless connections. The competition all host their servers in China / USA, so their video signals must go halfway around the planet via undersea cables, which takes time and degrades the call quality” he added.
The video conferencing system will also enable African countries to retain the fees in local economies, compared to the competition that repatriates it off the continent:
“Since the existing players are all international companies, there are billions of shillings in fees from across Africa that is leaving the continent and into these companies’ coffers overseas exactly at a time when we need that money in the local economy. Gumzo will save it.”
During the Covid-19 lockdown, more families and friends are using video conferencing for social gatherings, and not just business meetings. Gumzo supports fun times for users, allows groups to watch shared movies, and plays games with loved ones especially during these tough times. Gumzo games include board games and card games as well as have Karaoke nights.
At the same time, influencers and media personalities who are currently conducting interviews online will have an opportunity to brand their virtual rooms during their sessions.
In the near future, Gumzo will be adding the ability to connect to other social media platforms such as Facebook Live and YouTube Live allowing teachers, pastors, and community leaders to reach mass audiences.
There are already more than 350 million internet-connected smartphones across Africa. Most of them that run on Android and IOS are compatible to use Gumzo, which is purely browser-based, not a native app with no downloads or plugins to be installed.
Gumzo has committed to making the platform available to all public school teachers in Kenya for the free use of their virtual classrooms, tuitions, and family calls through the end of the year.
In addition, Gumzo has committed that 50 percent of all fees raised on the platform will be donated to the Covid-19 response Fund, NGOs in Kenya, including the Pwani Youth Network, Team Pankaj & Mombasa Red Cross.
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