Technology entrepreneur Charlette N’Guessan has won this year’s Royal Academy of Engineering Africa prize for engineering innovation.
The Ivorian 26-year-old, who is based in Ghana, is the first woman to win the prestigious prize.
Her team’s invention, Bace API, uses facial recognition and artificial intelligence to verify identities remotely, the academy said.
It 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.
Ms 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 received £10,000 ($13,000).
They are Aisha Raheem from Nigeria – whose digital platform provides farmers with data to improve their efficiency, Dr William Wasswa from Uganda – whose low-cost digital microscope speeds up cervical cancer screening and David Tusubira from Uganda – who devised a system that manages off-grid power grids by monitoring the condition of solar arrays.
“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.