Kenyan Launches First African Video Conferencing App
19 June 2020
A Kenya-based company, Usiku Game, developed and launched a video conferencing application, Gumzo, the first to be made in Africa.
"Kenyan ICT startup Usiku Games was created to tackle the problem of youth gambling across Africa, but when the Corona Virus hit, we realized that our in-game video conferencing platform could help bring families together,
"Two months later (May 2020), Gumzo was born, as the only video conferencing platform made in Africa, for Africa," a statement from the firm's website reads in part.
Gumzo, which means "chatting" in Swahili, is free to join and costs approximately Ksh100 per week for users who want to host meetings.
Jay Shapiro, Usiku’s CEO, said Gumzo was purpose-built to be used on the wide variety of devices used across Africa.
“Africa is a mobile phone first continent and so you have to have a platform that works on mobile devices [that are] older, less memory and so that’s why we built a download app that is web-based and is accessible on all smartphones or PC or tablets to try and reach as many people as we can,” he said.
“Since the existing players are all international companies, there are billions of shillings in fees from across Africa that are 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," he added.
Shapiro also revealed that in line with the origins of the revolutionary applicatuon, 50% of all fees raised on the platform would be donated to the Covid-19 response Fund, NGOs in Kenya, including the Pwani Youth Network, Team Pankaj & Mombasa Red Cross.
"Every call that you place through Gumzo creates jobs in Kenya and supports economic growth here. All fees generated stay in Kenya, and during Covid-19, we are donating 50% of all Gumzo fees to fund Coronavirus Response initiatives across the country," reads a statement from the company's website.
The firm also announced that it had committed to making the video conferencing platform available to all public school teachers in Kenya for free, to enable them to host virtual classrooms for students who are currently stuck at home due to the pandemic.
“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 on security and creating a better experience compared to the overseas competition," the CEO reiterated.
Gumzo features chat channels that have free text-only topical chat rooms as well as an audio-only option, in addition to it's video room.