Charlette N’Guessan – First Woman to Win Africa Prize – Ivorian AI Engineer

Charlette N’Guessan – a 26-year-old Ivorian CEO and co-founder of Ghana-based software company, BACE Group has won The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. The 2020 Africa Prize final’s live event took place virtually and featured each innovator pitched their innovations before a panel of judges. The virtual ceremony took place on 3 September 2020 and Charlette and her team was awarded the prize of £25,000 where the Africa Prize judges and a live audience voted in their favour.

Charlette N’Guessan is the first woman to win the award, which could revolutionize cyber security and help curb identity fraud on the African continent!


How does BACE API work?

BACE API is a digital verification system that uses Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition to verify identities remotely and in real-time. It works by matching the live photo of a user to the image on their documents such as passports or ID cards. For websites and online applications that have BACE API integrated into them, users will be verified via their webcam to establish their identity.

“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. “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 to CNN. [Source]

BACE API can be integrated into already existing applications and systems for identity verification and is targeted mostly towards financial institutions on the African continent, N’Guessan told CNN.

How did she come up with the idea?

Charlette N’Guessan told CNN that the idea came about while she was studying at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana’s capital city. While there, she worked with a team of four and it was during one of their research projects in 2018 that they noticed that there is a huge problem with cyber security with online services and businesses. They then decided to create BACE API, and later a software company.

Charlette said their research found that many financial institutions in the West African country (Ghana) deal with identity fraud, estimating that they spend up to $400 million dollars annually to identify their customers.

“We decided to make our contribution as software engineers and data scientists by building a solution that can be useful for this market,” N’Guessan told CNN.


The other 3 finalists: The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation


Aisha Raheem is a data expert from Nigeria and the owner of the digital farming platform Farmz2U. Farmz2U is a software that links rural farmers to urban consumers to reduce food wastage, improve nutrition and reduce food importation in the country.



William Wasswa from Uganda is a biomedical engineer who founded PapsAI, a low-cost digital microscope slide scanner that diagnoses cervical cancer in women living in areas with limited financial resources.



Uganda’s David Tusubira is an electrical engineer who invented Remot, a pay-as-you-go system for solar electricity users to conveniently pay for power. David Tusubira (Uganda): Digital platform that connects to off-grid solar systems to allow users to manage and pay for them remotely.


Further reading on Charlette N’Guessan:

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