(CNN)A 26-year-old from Ivory Coast has won the 2020 Royal Academy of Engineering's Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.
Charlette N'Guessan is the first woman to win the award, which could revolutionize cyber security and help curb identity fraud on the continent.
N'Guessan and her team won the £25,000 award (about $33,000) for BACE API, a digital verification system that uses Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition to verify the identities of Africans remotely and in real time.
BACE API works by matching the live photo of a user to the image on their documents such as passports or ID card, N'Guessan said.
For websites and online applications that have BACE API integrated in 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.
BACE API can be integrated into already existing applications and systems for identity verification and is targeted at mostly financial institutions on the continent, N'Guessan told CNN.
N'Guessan and her team won the Africa Prize for Innovation in a virtual award ceremony on September 3 where the Africa Prize judges and a live audience voted in their favor, the Royal Academy of Engineering said in a statement.
"We are very proud to have Charlette N'Guessan and her team win this award," said Rebecca Enonchong, an entrepreneur from Cameroon entrepreneur and Africa Prize judge in the statement.
"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."
Curbing identity fraud
N'Guessan, who is the CEO and co-founder of Ghana-based software company, BACE Group, 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 they decided to create BACE API, and later a software company.
"We ... talked to tech entrepreneurs. That's when we noticed that there is a huge problem with cyber security with online services and businesses," sh