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Microsoft and G42 Announce $1 Billion Digital Investment in Kenya


Microsoft Corp. and G42, a prominent technology company from the United Arab Emirates, have announced a significant digital investment initiative in Kenya. This comprehensive package of digital investments, totalling $1 billion, is a collaborative effort with the Republic of Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Digital Economy. The investment aims to accelerate Kenya's digital transformation and establish the country as a regional leader in technology and innovation.

Green Data Center and New Cloud Region

A key component of the investment is the construction of a state-of-the-art green data centre in Olkaria, Kenya. This data center will be built and operated by G42 and its partners, running entirely on renewable geothermal energy. It will incorporate advanced water conservation technology and host Microsoft Azure services through a new East Africa Cloud Region. This cloud region is expected to become operational within 24 months of signing the definitive agreements, providing scalable, secure, high-speed cloud and AI services to businesses and organizations across Kenya and East Africa.

Five Pillars of the Initiative

The initiative comprises five main pillars, each designed to address different aspects of digital transformation and innovation:

  1. Local-Language AI Model Development and Research: This pillar focuses on developing AI models in local languages, such as Swahili and English, to meet the unique cultural and linguistic needs of the region. G42 is already working on training an open-source, large-language AI model through its data infrastructure in the United States.
  2. East Africa Innovation Lab and Digital Skills Training: An Innovation Lab will be established in Nairobi to support startups, entrepreneurs, and organizations in developing and implementing cloud and AI services. The lab will offer design sessions, rapid prototyping, and skilling programs with support from Microsoft developers based at the Africa Development Center in Nairobi. Additionally, comprehensive digital and AI skills training programs will be provided to government employees, young entrepreneurs, and cybersecurity professionals.
  3. International and Local Connectivity Investments: The initiative will expand internet connectivity across Kenya and East Africa. G42 and its UAE ecosystem partners will support the development of international and domestic marine and terrestrial fibre cable infrastructure. Microsoft aims to provide last-mile wireless internet access to 20 million people in Kenya and 50 million people across East Africa by the end of 2025.
  4. Safe and Secure Cloud Services Collaboration: Microsoft and G42 will collaborate with the Kenyan government to establish a "trusted data zone" in the new East Africa Cloud Region, ensuring digital safety, privacy, and security. This zone will allow data from other countries to be governed by their local laws while stored in Kenya. The Kenyan government will adopt a "cloud-first" policy to encourage local entities to move their data and computing services to the cloud.
  5. AI for Societal Priorities: Microsoft's AI for Good Lab in Nairobi will leverage AI technology to address economic and societal priorities in East Africa. Projects will include enhancing food security, monitoring water risks, improving climate resilience, and tracking wildlife populations using high-resolution satellite imagery and AI.

Historic Signs and Vision for the Future

A letter of intent formalizing this relationship will be signed on Friday during Kenyan President William Ruto’s state visit to the United States. This visit marks the first by a sitting African head of state to Washington, D.C., in nearly two decades. The letter will be signed between Microsoft, G42, and Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Digital Economy, with assistance from the governments of the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

President William Ruto highlighted the significance of this partnership, stating, “This partnership is bigger than technology itself. It is about the coming together of three countries with a common vision of a nation empowered by technology, where every citizen has the opportunity to thrive in the global digital landscape. It’s about building a future where Kenya flourishes as a digital leader.”

Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft, emphasized the transformative potential of this investment, noting, “This represents the single largest and broadest digital investment in Kenya’s history and reflects our confidence in the country, the government, its people, and the future of East Africa.”

Peng Xiao, group CEO of G42, expressed excitement about the collaboration, saying, “In partnership with Microsoft, we are excited to work with the Kenyan government to usher in a transformative era for the digital ecosystem in Kenya and the region. By establishing a green data center and developing AI tailored to the local culture, G42 is committed to fostering sustainable technological growth.”

Impact on Kenya and Beyond

This investment will significantly enhance Kenya's digital infrastructure, providing robust, secure cloud services and AI capabilities. It aims to empower the Kenyan government, local communities, and businesses, supporting the country’s vision of becoming a digital leader in the region. The initiative will also contribute to Kenya’s economic growth, job creation, and overall technological advancement, setting a precedent for similar projects across the African continent.

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