26-year-old lady wins £25000 UK Engineering award, becomes first-ever woman to win the prize
Charlette N’Guessan, a remarkable 26-year-old lady from the Ivory Coast, is the first woman to receive the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Award for Engineering Creativity.
The Royal Academy of Engineering in London, UK, sponsors the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, which annually awards $25,000 to scientists and engineers who have made remarkable breakthroughs.
But, Charlette N’Guessan and her team took home the 2020 prize for creating the BACE API system, a digital verification system that employs facial recognition and artificial intelligence to remotely and instantly confirm the identities of Africans.
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
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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 spoke with tech business owners. We were aware of a serious issue with cyber security with internet services and businesses at that point, she said.
N’Guessan continued, “We choose to contribute our expertise as software engineers and data scientists by developing a product that can be valuable for this market.