Tech entrepreneur Charlette N’Guessan won the 2020 Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. According to CNN, she is the first woman to win the award, which carries a monetary prize of about $33,000.
“I will be happy if people are inspired by my story, being the first woman to win the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation and by my work as a woman in tech,” she said, CNN reports.
An Ivory Coast native who resides in Ghana, N’Guessan is the CEO and co-founder of Ghana-based software company, BACE Group. With the help of a team, she invented BACE API, a digital identification system that uses Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition to verify the identities of Africans remotely and in real-time for documents such as passports and ID cards.
“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,” she explained. “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.”
N’Guessan came up with the idea while she was studying at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in Accra.
BAPE API has the potential to curb identity fraud on the continent and can be integrated into existing applications and systems for identity verification. Currently, the invention is targeted at financial institutions.
“We are very proud to have Charlette N’Guessan and her team win this award,” said Rebecca Enonchong, an entrepreneur from Cameroon and Africa Prize judge, in a statement. “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.”