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Ghanaian technology entrepreneur Charlette N’Guessan made history by becoming the first woman to win the Royal Academy of Engineering’s prestigious 2020 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.
The award is worth £25,000 (about $33,000).
The Royal Academy of Engineering founded the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation in the UK in 2014. It is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to engineering innovation and has supported talented sub-Saharan African entrepreneurs with engineering innovations. The invention must work to address a fundamental issue within their community.
N’Guessan developed BACE API along with her team, which software uses facial recognition and artificial intelligence to verify identities remotely. It was developed mainly with financial institutions and other industries that use identity verification when providing services in mind.
Using just the phone or computer’s in-built camera, specifically to identify Africans, as westernized technology is usually biased towards more Eurocentric facial features.
“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 said, according to MSN. “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. “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.”
“We are very proud to have Charlette N’Guessan and her team win this award,” said Rebecca Enonchong, Africa Prize judge and Cameroonian entrepreneur. “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.”