Kenya video-conference platform elbows its way into crowded field

Usiku Games CEO Jay Shapiro uses the Gumzo, which means “chatting” in Swahili, video conferencing application, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at their hub in Nairobi, Kenya June 4, 2020. Picture taken June 4, 2020. REUTERS/Edwin Waita

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Tiny Kenyan start-up Gumzo is a minnow on the booming teleconferencing scene but its creators hope the platform will help companies spend more of their cash in Africa rather than on foreign technology companies.

Gumzo, which means “chatting” in Swahili, went live three weeks ago and now charges users $1 a week for hosting unlimited meetings, less than a third of the price of Zoom.

“We just thought of all this money streaming out of the continent and we thought some should stay here,” said Jay Shapiro, the Canadian founder of Nairobi-based Usiku Games and designer of the Gumzo app.

Shapiro hopes the app will also benefit from its servers being in Kenya and South Africa, making it independent from transcontinental internet cables.

Reporting by Nazanine Moshiri; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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