Microsoft and G42 announce $1bn digital investment in Kenya

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Microsoft Corp. and UAE-based artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing technology company G42 have unveiled a comprehensive $1 billion digital investment plan in Kenya, in collaboration with the Republic of Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Digital Economy. This landmark initiative, announced during Kenyan President William Ruto’s state visit to the United States, represents the largest digital investment in Kenya’s history.

Pioneering a Green Data Center and Cloud Region

At the heart of the investment is the construction of a state-of-the-art green data center in Olkaria, Kenya, which will be powered entirely by renewable geothermal energy. This facility, designed with cutting-edge water conservation technology, will host Microsoft Azure services for the new East Africa Cloud Region. Scheduled to become operational within 24 months post-agreement, this cloud region aims to provide scalable, secure, and high-speed cloud and AI services to accelerate digital transformation across Kenya and East Africa.

Microsoft Corp. and G42 unveil $1 billion digital investment plan in Kenya

Microsoft Corp. and G42 unveil $1 billion digital investment plan in Kenya

Expanding Digital Infrastructure and Capabilities

The investment package includes several critical initiatives:

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1. Local-language AI Model Development and Research: In partnership with local universities and research institutes, Microsoft and G42 are set to develop AI models in Swahili and English to cater to the region’s unique cultural and linguistic needs.

2. East Africa Innovation Lab: This Nairobi-based facility will support local startups and entrepreneurs in developing and implementing cloud and AI services, backed by Microsoft’s technology and expertise.

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3. Enhancing Connectivity: The partnership will also focus on expanding internet connectivity through investments in both international and local marine and terrestrial fiber cable infrastructure.

4. Government Collaboration: Microsoft and G42 will work closely with the Kenyan government to support the establishment of safe and secure cloud services across East Africa.

Strategic Benefits and Broader Implications

This initiative not only strengthens Kenya’s digital infrastructure but also aligns with broader geopolitical and economic goals. President Ruto emphasized the transformative potential of this partnership, stating, “This partnership is bigger than technology itself. It is about coming together of three countries with a common vision of a nation empowered by technology.”

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Brad Smith, Vice President of Microsoft, highlighted the strategic importance of this investment, pointing out its potential to bridge the digital divide and enhance technological innovation in the Global South. Meanwhile, Peng Xiao, CEO of G42, reiterated the commitment to fostering sustainable technological growth in Kenya, aiming to establish a robust digital ecosystem that supports economic development and improves societal outcomes.

The collaboration marks a significant milestone in global digital partnerships, promoting sustainable development and showcasing the power of international cooperation in advancing technology for societal benefit.

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