Microsoft and G42 are building a $1 billion data center in Africa powered by geothermal energy

Microsoft and G42, an Abu Dhabi-based AI firm, have committed to investing $1 billion in Kenya to support the nation’s digital economy, building a geothermal-powered data center in the process.

The funding package is in collaboration with Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy, and marks the largest digital investment in the country’s history, representing an important turning point for its citizens and economy.

Key to the mammoth investment will be a state-of-the-art green data center in Olkaria, a small region north of Nairobi in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya, known for its geothermal activity.

Microsoft to build new geothermal data center near Nairobi, Kenya

The G42-built data center will serve as the hub for Microsoft Azure in a new East Africa Cloud Region, which is set to become operational within two years.

Besides new cloud infrastructure, Microsoft has also committed to developing of local-language Swahili/English AI models and research, establishing of an East Africa Innovation Lab and AI digital skills training, enhancing international and local connectivity, and collaborating with the Kenyan government to secure cloud services in the region.

Of key significance to Kenya’s citizens is Microsoft’s pledge to bring last-mile wireless internet access to 20 million people in Kenya (around 37% of the country’s population), and 50 million people across East Africa, by the end of next year.

Commenting on the announcement, Kenya’s President, Dr William Samoei Ruto, said: “In the spirit of mutual growth and shared prosperity, this [letter of intent] is a stepping stone toward a brighter, more connected and digitally empowered future for the USA, Kenya and the UAE.”

Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith noted the significant of the investment: “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.”

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