An exceptional 26-year-old Lady from Ivory Coast named Charlette N’Guessan has emerged as the first-ever woman to win the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.
The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation is sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering in London, UK, and offers an award of £25,000 to Scientists and Engineers with outstanding innovations yearly.
Charlette N’Guessan and her team however won the 2020 award after designing a system called BACE API – a digital verification system that uses Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition to verify the identities of Africans remotely and in real-time.
Explaining how the system works, N’Guessan explained that the BACE API works by matching the live photo of a user to the image on their documents such as passports or ID card.
“For the person trying to submit their application, we ask them to switch on their camera to make sure the person behind the camera is real, and not a robot. We are able to capture the face of the person live and match their image with the one on the existing document the person submitted,” she explained.
According to a statement by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Africa Prize judges and a live audience voted in favor Charlette N’Guessan’s innovation.
“We are very proud to have Charlette N’Guessan and her team win this award. It is essential to have technologies like facial recognition based on African communities, and we are confident their innovative technology will have far reaching benefits for the continent,” said Rebecca Enonchong, an entrepreneur from Cameroon and Africa Prize judge in the statement.
Speaking with CNN, N’Guessan explained that the idea to develop BACE API came about while she was studying at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana, West Africa.
“We … talked to tech entrepreneurs. That’s when we noticed that there is a huge problem with cyber security with online services and businesses,” she explained.
“We decided to make our contribution as software engineers and data scientists by building a solution that can be useful for this market,” N’Guessan added.