By Isaac Kaledzi
26-year-old Charlette N’Guessan, a Ghanaian technology entrepreneur, has won the 2020 Royal Academy of Engineering Africa prize for engineering innovation.
N’Guessan becomes the first woman ever to win the Africa Prize and also the first from Ghana to win the award.
For her prize Ms N’Guessan will receive $33,000 for her team’s invention, Bace API, which uses facial recognition and artificial intelligence to verify identities remotely.
The award academy said her invention uses live images or short videos taken on phone cameras to detect whether the image is of a real person, or a photo of an existing image.
The aim of N’Guessan’s invention is to support institutions that rely on identity verification.
The academy said two financial institutions are already using her software to verify customers’ identities.
The winner of the award was voted for by a live audience during a virtual awards ceremony held on Thursday.
“Fifteen shortlisted Africa Prize entrepreneurs, from six countries in sub-Saharan Africa, received eight months of training and mentoring, during which they developed their business plans and learned to market their innovations,” the academy said in a statement.
Four finalists delivered presentations at the virtual award event including Ms N’Guessan’s team with the three runners-up receiving $13,000.
The three runners up include Aisha Raheem from Nigeria – whose digital platform provides farmers with data to improve their efficiency.
The other runner up is Dr William Wasswa from Uganda – whose low-cost digital microscope speeds up cervical cancer screening and finally David Tusubira from Uganda – who developed a system that manages off-grid power grids by monitoring the condition of solar arrays.