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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Microsoft Plans Billion Dollar Data Center in Kenya Following Closure of Nigerian Facility

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In collaboration with G42, an artificial intelligence company based in the UAE, Microsoft Corporation has announced intentions to construct a billion dollar geothermal-powered data center in Kenya. The announcement comes in the wake of Microsoft’s decision to shutter its African development center in Lagos, Nigeria, resulting in the displacement of over 200 of its employees.

Leading the investment and construction efforts, G42 will spearhead the establishment of the facility in Olkaria, well-known for its abundance of geothermal resources. This is particularly beneficial to Kenya’s digital sector as countries in Africa are frequently plagued by power disruptions and is in line with Microsoft’s environmental objectives. The project inaugurates the initial phase of a long-term initiative for cloud computing across East Africa.

Also, the inaugural phase of the project, expected to be operational in approximately two years, will boast a capacity of 100 megawatts. The full-scale project, as outlined by G42 CEO Peng Xiao, is estimated to require up to one gigawatt of electricity from the grid. However, specific details regarding the project’s timeline and overall cost remain undisclosed.

G42’s expansion into Kenya mirrors the broader strategy of the UAE to strengthen its geopolitical influence in Africa. Over the past two years, the oil-rich nation has pledged approximately $100 billion in investments across the continent. Microsoft for the past three years has also been making good on its promise of supporting local business, upskilling, and building capacity to boost Africa’s digital economies.

Microsoft President Brad Smith, familiar with Kenya, emphasized the venture’s significance in advancing digital technology within the country. He lauded the partnership with UAE’s G42, highlighting the potential achievements through joint efforts in fostering digital innovation across Africa.

Microsoft’s closure of its African development center reflects challenges within Nigeria’s business environment, which might be viewed as part of the challenges in attracting and retaining investors in the country. However, this does not diminish Nigeria’s tech potential but rather highlights the diverse investment opportunities across different regions in Africa. Nigeria continues to nurture a thriving tech community with numerous startups and innovation hubs.

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