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AI Case Study

The Government of Zimbabwe to leverage facial recognition technology for security purposes and building a national image database

In April 2018, the Government of Zimbabwe signed a deal with the Chinese AI startup CloudWalk Technology to leverage facial recognition technology. The authorities hope to use the technology for security purposes at state level and for developing a national image database.


Public And Social Sector


Project Overview

"China is exporting facial recognition technology to Zimbabwe as part of the Belt and Road initiative, which marks China's first artificial intelligence (AI) technology entry to Africa.

Cloudwalk, a company based in South China's Guangdong Province, has signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement with the Zimbabwean government for a mass facial recognition project, according to a statement sent to the Global Times by Cloudwalk on Thursday.

The project will help the government build a smart financial service network as well as introduce intelligent security applications at airports, railway stations and bus stations, said the Science and Technology Daily.

The company will also help build a national facial database in Zimbabwe, the newspaper reported Thursday.

"Zimbabwe has been suffering social security issues, including robberies and shootings, so the system could help in this area," said Shen Xiaolei, an associate research fellow at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies in Beijing.

Facial recognition in Africa faces an additional challenge: AI technology currently finds it more difficult to recognize faces with darker skin, Shen told the Global Times.

Cloudwalk is recalibrating the system for darker skin metrics, Zhou Yuye, an employee at the Cloudwalk technology promotion department, told the Global Times.

Three-dimensional light technology should be able to recognize faces without being affected by skin color or light, he said.

The company is also developing an AI system which can recognize different people from their gait, shape or haircut and could be added to facial recognition, Zhou said.

By optimizing cameras to better highlight the features of people with darker skin tones, smartphone manufacturer Transsion has become a top player in Africa's fast-growing smartphone market, the Xinhua News Agency reported in August last year.

Shenzhen-based Transsion, whose products are sold under the Tecno, itel and Infinix brands, controls 40 percent of the African market.

Transsion has developed a technology that "enriches the luminance of the picture by locating eyes and teeth," Economic Daily reported.

Zimbabwe and China agreed last week to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation.

"Cooperation between China and Zimbabwe is mainly on mines, agriculture, road construction and tourism. Science and technology is not yet a priority," Shen said." (globaltimes)

Reported Results

roof of concept; results not yet available






"As this technology increasingly outpaces human discourse on race, China seems to be getting ahead on recognizing a diverse range of faces across the wider world, despite its own struggles with racial insensitivity." (qz)



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