Microsoft, with G42 (where MSFT invested $1.5B), is investing $1B in Kenya for geothermal data centers

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Key notes

  • Microsoft and G42 to build $1 billion geothermal data center in Kenya, boosting East Africa’s cloud computing.
  • Project to bring cloud services, AI development, and internet access to Kenya and neighboring countries.
  • Initiative seen as US-UAE effort to counter Chinese influence in Africa’s growing tech market.

Microsoft and G42, where Microsoft announced an investment of $1.5 billion last month, announced a partnership to build a data center in Kenya. This $1 billion multi-phase project can change cloud computing access across East Africa.

The initial phase will see a geothermal-powered facility constructed in Olkaria, Kenya. This strategic location has abundant geothermal resources, which is important for a continent facing frequent power outages. The first phase, with a 100-megawatt capacity, is expected to be operational within two years.

“This is the single biggest step to advance the availability of digital technology in, I think, the country’s history,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith, who has been visiting Kenya, where the company has 500 software developers, for almost 15 years. “This shows what G42 and Microsoft have the opportunity to do together that neither one of us could do separately. I frankly think it shows that what the United States and the United Arab Emirates can do together that helps bring technology to new countries, especially across Africa.”

Microsoft President Brad Smith

G42 will lead the initial investment and oversee construction.

The data center will offer cloud computing services and help Kenya’s transformation. Microsoft plans to establish an East African region for its Azure products, improving service availability for Kenyan customers relying on data centers thousands of miles away in South Africa.

Furthermore, the Kenyan government has committed to migrating its services to the cloud. The project also contains AI development, with G42 focusing on LLMs for Swahili and English. 

More here.