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G42 and Microsoft to invest $1bn in Kenya data centre

The new East Africa cloud service will give customers access to secure, high-speed cloud and AI services across the region Creative Commons
The new East Africa cloud service will give customers access to secure, high-speed cloud and AI services across the region

Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence (AI) company G42 has partnered with US tech giant Microsoft to invest $1 billion in a green data centre in Kenya.

The data centre, which will be built by G42 and its partners, will provide access to Azure – a computing platform developed by Microsoft – through a new East Africa cloud region.

The data centre in Olkaria, Kenya, will run entirely on geothermal energy and is designed with water conservation technology.

The cloud region will provide customers access to scalable, secure, high-speed cloud and AI services to accelerate cloud adoption and digital transformation across Kenya and East Africa, the companies said.

“This partnership between two companies and three countries (the US, Kenya and the UAE) 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 of Microsoft. 

G42 has begun using its data infrastructure in the US to train an open-source large-language AI model in Swahili and English.

The letter of intent will be signed on Friday between Microsoft, G42 and Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy as part of Kenyan President William Ruto’s state visit to the US, Microsoft said in a statement.

The data centre will become operational within two years of signing definitive agreements. 

Microsoft and G42 will also launch and operate an East African innovation lab in Nairobi to help regional startups, entrepreneurs and companies develop and implement cloud and AI services.

In April the UAE announced plans to build data centre projects with a total capacity of up to 1,000 megawatts in Kenya to promote the “digital corridor” concept with the East African nation.

G42 said in March it will develop a one-gigawatt data centre in Kenya powered by geothermal energy.

The new facility, developed in partnership with Kenya’s EcoCloud, will boost cloud computing and AI services.

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