Kenya gets $1 billion from Microsoft and UAE's G42 for geothermal data centre

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May 22, 2024
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2 min read
  • Microsoft and G42, an artificial intelligence (AI) firm based in the United Arab Emirates, have announced digital investments in Kenya as part of a joint initiative with Kenya's Ministry of Information, Communications, and Digital Economy.
  • According to Microsoft, G42 will lead the effort to secure an initial $1 billion investment for the initiative's various projects.
  • On Friday, May 24, 2024, Microsoft, G42, and Kenya's Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Digital Economy will sign a letter of intent to formalise the transaction.

This comes as President William Ruto embarks on a state visit to the United States of America, which Microsoft claims is the first by a sitting African head of state in nearly 20 years.

Per the agreement, G42 will collaborate with local partners to build a cutting-edge data centre campus powered by renewable geothermal energy and water conservation technology. 

“The data centre will run on and provide access to Microsoft Azure through a new East Africa Cloud Region, which will become operational within 24 months of the signing of the definitive agreements.”

Other projects on the initiative include the development of Swahili/English AI models and the launch of AI societal services. Microsoft stated that G42 has begun training an open-source language AI model in Swahili and English using its data infrastructure in the United States. 

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Additionally, Microsoft and G42 intend to establish an East African Innovation Lab in Nairobi to assist businesses and organisations in developing and implementing cloud and AI services. In addition, the partnership will offer a variety of digital and AI skills, including plans for a cybersecurity training programme for more than 2,000 people per year.

The initiative also includes expanding Internet connectivity and working with the Kenyan government to support safe and secure cloud services throughout East Africa.

“With technical assistance and support from G42 and Microsoft, Kenya will establish the new data centre as part of a “trusted data zone” under which data from other countries may be governed by their local laws, even while stored and resident in Kenya.”

Airtel Africa announced in February 2024 that it would open a new data centre in Nairobi, the second in Africa after Nigeria.

This is not Microsoft's first investment in Kenya's digital economy. It has a development centre in Nairobi, called the African Development Centre (ADC), which opened in 2019.

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It also has a centre in Nigeria, but has recently laid off its engineering team. However, it has denied shutting down, adding that the Africa Development Centre in Kenya remains unaffected.


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