Usiku Games seeks to disrupt virtual meetup scene with Gumzo video conferencing platform

Usiku Games, a Kenya-based gaming tech start-up, has launched a video conferencing system that will enable users benefit from better quality calls with unlimited attendees, at more affordable prices.

Dubbed “Gumzo”, a Swahili word that means chatting, the service is free for users to attend meetings, and only costs Kshs 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 in to 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 on security and creating a better experience compared to the overseas competition,” said Shapiro.

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 allow for quick and seamless connections. The competition all host their servers in China or 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 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 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.”

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 play 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 make the platform available to all public school teachers in Kenya for 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 Covid-19 response Fund, NGOs in Kenya, including the Pwani Youth Network, Team Pankaj and the Mombasa Red Cross.

Gumzo is a video conferencing solution developed by Usiku Games. It aims to revolutionize virtual meet ups and enhance family relationships across Africa through its secure, faster and affordable platform.

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