Strategic Partnership to Enhance Cloud Computing in East Africa

Microsoft and G42 have announced a significant investment of $1 billion to establish a geothermal-powered data centre in Kenya. This venture aims to bolster cloud-computing services across East Africa, marking a pivotal step in the region’s digital transformation.

Geothermal-Powered Infrastructure

The new data centre, to be constructed by G42 and its partners, will harness geothermal energy, providing a sustainable power source. This facility will grant access to Microsoft’s Azure through a newly established East Africa cloud region, enhancing the technological landscape of the area.

This development follows recent memorandums of understanding (MoUs) between the UAE and Kenya to advance the mining and technology sectors. The agreement underscores a collaborative approach involving the governments of the US and the UAE, supporting Kenya's technological advancement.

Key Pillars of the Investment

The $1 billion initiative encompasses four critical pillars:

1. Local-Language AI Model Development and Research

2. Establishment of the East Africa Innovation Lab and AI Digital Skills Training

3. Investments in International and Local Connectivity

4. Collaboration with the Kenyan Government for Secure Cloud Services

Formalizing the Agreement

A letter of intent (LOI) will be signed during Kenyan President William Ruto’s state visit to Washington, D.C., formalizing the agreement between Microsoft, G42, and Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Digital Economy.

President Ruto’s Vision

President Ruto emphasized the broader implications 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, where every citizen has the opportunity to thrive in the global digital landscape.”

Bridging the Digital Divide

G42, which received a $1.5 billion investment from Microsoft last month, has started training an open-source large-language AI model in Swahili and English. This collaboration aims to bridge the digital divide and accelerate technological innovation across the region.

Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President of Microsoft, highlighted the significance of the investment: “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.”

Future Prospects of the Microsoft-G42 Partnership

The data centre is expected to be operational within two years of signing the definitive agreements. This cloud region will offer scalable, secure, high-speed cloud and AI services, facilitating the digital transformation of businesses, customers, and partners across East Africa.

Peng Xiao, Group CEO of G42, stated, “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.”

Expanding Connectivity and Digital Safety

Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Digital Economy will work with Microsoft and G42 to enhance internet connectivity. The collaboration aims to extend wireless internet access to 20 million people in Kenya and 50 million people across East Africa by the end of 2025.

Microsoft and G42 will ensure the new East Africa cloud region operates as a “trusted data zone,” adhering to global standards for digital safety, privacy, and security. This initiative will support Kenya’s governmental and citizen services, adopting a “cloud-first” policy to streamline the migration of data and computing services to the cloud.