A 26-year-old lady has become the first-ever female to win the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Innovation. Charlette N’Guessan, who comes from Ivory Coast, won the 2020 edition of the award. She and her team bag $33,000 for innovations.

The team developed an artificial intelligence system which they called BACE API. The system uses facial recognition and artificial intelligence to verify the identities of Africans in actual time remotely.

The app functions by matching the image on verification documents such as ID card. To a user’s live photo.

Websites and other online applications that utilize BACE API will have the capability to verify users’ authenticity via webcam.

“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 further explained.

The BACE API can easily be implemented on existing web applications and systems to aid identity verification. The API was designed to proffer solutions to many financial institutions that suffer numerous identity frauds.

The award ceremony was held virtually on September 3; during the event, N’Guessan and her team were voted winners of the grand prize by a group of judges and a live audience.  

Rebecca Enonchong, who is a Cameroonian entrepreneur, said, “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.”

N’Guessan is co-founder and CEO of the BACE Group. She said she came up with the idea of developing the software when she was a student at Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana.

While she was still a student, she teamed up with three other people to work on a research project. It was during one of those projects they decided to code and develop the BACE API.

“We … talked to tech entrepreneurs. That’s when we noticed that there is a considerable problem with cybersecurity with online services and businesses.

“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. She explained.