An Ivorian woman, Charlette N’Guessan, has won this year’s Royal Academy of Engineering Africa prize for engineering innovation.
The 26-year-old technology entrepreneur is the first woman to win the highly coveted prize.
N’Guessan’s team invention, Bace API, uses facial recognition and artificial intelligence to verify identities remotely, the academy said.
Bace API takes live images or short videos recorded on phone cameras to detect whether the image is of a real person or a photo of an existing image.
It is aimed at institutions that rely on identity verification. Two financial institutions are already using the software to verify customers’ identities, the academy said.
N’Guessan won £25,000 – $33,000 – for the top prize.
The winner was voted for by a live audience during a virtual awards ceremony held on Thursday where four finalists delivered presentations.
Three runners-up – Aisha Raheem from Nigeria, Dr William Wasswa and David Tusubira both from Uganda – received £10,000 ($13,000).
Nigeria’s Raheem emerged tops with her digital platform which provides farmers with data to improve their efficiency; Wasswa’s invention, a low-cost digital microscope, speeds up cervical cancer screening while Tusubira devised a system that manages off-grid power grids by monitoring the condition of solar rays.
“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.
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