Microsoft and G42 Invest $1 Billion in Kenya's Digital Sector

By : Adoni Conrad Quenum

Date : jeudi, 23 mai 2024 12:37

In September 2023, Kenyan President William Ruto visited Silicon Valley to meet with several tech company leaders. Since then, many of these companies have announced investments in this East African country.

Microsoft and G42, a United Arab Emirates-based firm specializing in artificial intelligence and cloud computing, have announced plans to invest $1 billion in Kenya's digital sector. The announcement was made through a press release issued by Microsoft on Wednesday, May 22.

The investment will be directed towards the construction of a data center in Olkaria, which will be powered entirely by renewable geothermal energy. G42 and its partners will oversee the development of this infrastructure to utilize Microsoft Azure in a new cloud region in East Africa. The data center is projected to be operational within 24 months after the signing of definitive agreements, scheduled to take place on Friday, May 24, in Washington, D.C.

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

This initiative builds upon a memorandum of understanding signed between Kenya and Microsoft last September, focusing on integrating the cloud services of the Redmond-based company to enhance public service delivery through a cloud-first approach. Kenya aims to position itself as the digital hub of the region, attracting investments from various tech giants. In addition to Microsoft, Oracle is preparing to establish its second data center in Africa in Nairobi.

The investment will also involve the development of four key pillars in collaboration with local stakeholders. These pillars include creating AI models in local languages and related research, establishing an innovation lab in East Africa, providing extensive digital skills training in AI, investing in international and local connectivity, and working with the Kenyan government to promote cloud services across East Africa.

Despite having a promising startup ecosystem, Kenya currently ranks 19th with a score of 54.2 out of 100 in the 2023 ICT Development Index for African countries, as reported in the "Measuring Digital Development: The ICT Development Index 2023" by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Adoni Conrad Quenum


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