Vodafone and Microsoft contribute $1.5 billion to Africa’s development of AI and cloud computing.

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Adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing in Africa received a boost with the $1.5 billion investment deal between two leading technology firms, Vodafone and Microsoft.

In the deal, Vodafone will invest $1.5 billion over the next 10 years in cloud and customer-focused AI services developed in conjunction with Microsoft.

As part of the agreement, Microsoft will use Vodafone’s fixed and mobile connectivity services to boost the service.

The Vodafone Group, which is a British multinational telecommunications firm that operates in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania, currently provides services in eight African countries, including the DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania.

The partnership will also see Microsoft investing in Vodafone’s managed IoT connectivity platform, which will become a separate, standalone business by April 2024.

The new company will attract new partners and customers, driving growth in applications and expanding the platform to connect more devices, vehicles, and machines.

The agreement indicated that the digital services generated by the new partnership will use the latest generative AI technology to provide a highly personalized and differentiated customer experience across multiple channels.

They will be built on unbiased and ethical privacy and security policies under Vodafone’s established framework for responsible AI. The major areas of collaboration between the two companies include Generative AI, Scaling IoT, Africa Digital Acceleration, Enterprise Growth, and Cloud Transformation.

Providing more insight on the partnership, Vodafone Group’s Chief Executive, Margherita Della Valle, said: “Today, Vodafone has made a bold commitment to the digital future of Europe and Africa. This unique strategic partnership with Microsoft will accelerate the digital transformation of our business customers, tiny and medium-sized companies, and improve the quality of the customer experience for consumers.”

On his part, the chairman and CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, said: “This new generation of AI will unlock massive new opportunities for every organization and every industry around the world.

“We are delighted that we will apply the latest cloud and AI technology together with Vodafone to enhance the customer experience of hundreds of millions of people and businesses across Africa and Europe, build new products and services, and accelerate the company’s transition to the cloud.”

Microsoft explained that through African digital acceleration, it intends to help further scale M-Pesa, already the largest financial technology platform in Africa, by housing it on Azure and enabling the launch of new cloud-native applications.

The companies are also launching a purpose-led program that seeks to enrich the lives of 100 million consumers and one million SMEs across the African continent. The goal is to enhance digital literacy, skilling, and youth outreach programmes, as well as offer digital services to the underserved SME market.