Microsoft and G42 announce US$1 billion comprehensive digital ecosystem initiative for Kenya

Microsoft and G42 announce US$1 billion comprehensive digital ecosystem initiative for Kenya

One of the largest single private-sector digital investments in Kenya’s history will support economic development across East Africa.

Microsoft and G42 have announced a comprehensive package of digital investments in Kenya, as part of an initiative with the Republic of Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy.

In collaboration with Microsoft and other stakeholders, G42 will lead the arrangement of an initial investment of US$1 billion for the various components outlined in the comprehensive package. One of the Kenyan investment priorities is a state-of-the-art green data centre that will be built by G42 and its partners to run Microsoft Azure in a new East Africa Cloud Region. 

The initiative will include four additional pillars that will be pursued with local partners: (1) local-language AI model development and research; (2) an East Africa Innovation Lab coupled with broad AI digital skills training; (3) international and local connectivity investments; and (4) collaboration with the government of Kenya to support safe and secure cloud services across East Africa. 

Sustainable data centre infrastructure and new East Africa cloud region

As part of the agreement, G42, in collaboration with local partners, will design and build a state-of-the-art data centre campus in Olkaria, Kenya, run entirely on renewable geothermal energy and designed with state-of-the-art 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. 

This cloud region will provide customers access to scalable, secure, high-speed cloud and AI services to accelerate cloud adoption and the Digital Transformation of businesses, customers and partners across Kenya and East Africa. 

“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, 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,” said His Excellency, President, Dr William Samoei Ruto.

“In the spirit of mutual growth and shared prosperity, this LOI is a stepping stone toward a brighter, more connected and digitally empowered future for the USA, Kenya and the UAE. It embodies our collective aspiration to bridge the digital divide, accelerate technological innovation and pave the way for a thriving digital economy that benefits the entire African continent and beyond,” HE Ruto added.

“This partnership between two companies and three countries highlights a real opportunity to bring digital technology to the Global South in a safe and secure manner,” said Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President, Microsoft. “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 Chief Executive Officer, G42, said: “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 centre and developing AI tailored to the local culture, G42 is committed to fostering sustainable technological growth.

“This initiative will empower the Kenyan government and communities with robust, secure cloud services and AI capabilities, providing the foundation for a thriving digital economy across the region,” added Xiao.

Internet connectivity

Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy will continue to expand work with Microsoft and G42 to broaden internet connectivity. G42 and its UAE ecosystem partners will leverage their resources to support Kenya’s development of international and domestic marine and terrestrial fibre cable infrastructure. 

Digital safety, privacy and security 

Microsoft and G42 will work with the government of Kenya and will design and operate the new East Africa cloud region as part of a ‘trusted data zone’ based on global standards to protect digital safety, privacy and security. 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. 

Kenya will utilise the new data centre and cloud services for governmental and citizen services, and it will provide government support by adopting a ‘cloud-first’ policy like those enacted in other countries to permit and encourage the government, its agencies, state-owned enterprises and other local entities to move their data and computing services to the cloud. 

The parties will also work together to pursue the steps needed to ensure Kenya has sufficient contractual and technical assurances to support trusted digital and sovereign cloud services from the UAE, to facilitate rapid Digital Transformation even before the completed construction of the G42-Microsoft services in Kenya itself. 

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