26-year-old entrepreneur, Charlette N’Guessan, has become the first woman to win the Royal Academy of Engineering prestigious 2020 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.
N’Guessan, who is based in Ghana, and her team developed BACE API, a software that uses facial recognition and artificial intelligence to verify identities remotely. The software can be integrated into existing apps and systems and is aimed at financial institutions and other industries that rely on identity verification when providing services.
The BACE API software uses a phone or computer’s built-in camera and does not need special hardware, and in contrast to global AI systems, has been developed specifically to identify Africans.
N’Guessan wins the first prize of Sh3.5 million (£25,000). At the virtual awards ceremony held on 3 September 2020, four finalists delivered presentations, before Africa Prize judges, and a live audience voted for the most promising engineering innovation.
“Being part of the Africa Prize has given us such confidence. We focus on Africa because we want to make sure BACE API is used by our people and works for them. We are so grateful to the Academy, and cannot wait to take our innovation to new heights,” said N’Guessan.
The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK in 2014, is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to engineering innovation and has a proven track record of identifying successful engineering entrepreneurs. Now in its sixth year, it supports talented sub-Saharan African entrepreneurs with engineering innovations, that address crucial problems in their communities in a new and appropriate way.
Two innovators from Uganda and one from Nigeria were the three three runners up. They will each receive Sh1.4 million (£10,000).
- Farmz2U, Aisha Raheem from Nigeria – a digital platform that provides farmers with tailored agricultural data to improve their experience and efficiency.
- PapsAI, Dr William Wasswa from Uganda – a low-cost digital microscope that speeds up cervical cancer screening diagnosis, and systems to improve patient record management.
- Remot, David Tusubira from Uganda – a system that manages off-grid power grids by monitoring the condition of solar arrays.