Microsoft partners with UAE AI startup G42 to invest $1 billion in Kenya data center

Microsoft is partnering with Abu Dhabi-based AI startup G42 to invest $1 billion in a data center in Kenya as part of the company’s efforts to expand cloud-computing services in East Africa, the two companies announced on Wednesday.

This is Microsoft’s second major partnership with G2 in less than a month. As we reported back in April, Microsoft announced a $1.5 billion strategic investment in G42, as it aims to spark innovation and deliver cutting-edge AI solutions leveraging Microsoft Azure across the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa.

According to the announcement, the data center will be built by G42 and its partners and powered by geothermal energy. The data center facility will offer access to Microsoft’s Azure services through a new cloud specifically designed for the East Africa region.

The letter of intent is set to be signed this Friday by representatives from Microsoft, G42, and Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Digital Economy. This signing will coincide with Kenyan President William Ruto’s state visit to the United States, marking a significant milestone in the collaboration between these entities, Reuters reported.

This development holds considerable importance. G42, a tech company based in Abu Dhabi, recently received a $1.5 billion investment from Microsoft. The company has initiated the training of an open-source large-language AI model in both Swahili and English, demonstrating its commitment to advancing AI technology in diverse languages.

The move comes as tech giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet are collectively investing billions in new data centers globally. These investments aim to support the surging demand for cloud services and generative AI technologies.

Microsoft said that the new data center will be operational within two years following the finalization of the agreements, setting a promising timeline for enhanced digital infrastructure in East Africa.

As you may recall, we covered G42 back in August after the Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence and cloud computing startup partnered with a consortium of engineers, researchers, and a Silicon Valley-based AI chip startup Cerebras to launch advanced Arabic language software that can power generative AI applications.