Monday, June 17, 2024

Microsoft invests $2.2 billion to fuel Malaysia’s cloud, AI infrastructure

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Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has announced a $2.2 billion investment to improve cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) infrastructure in Malaysia, extending its red-hot streak to new frontiers.

In an official announcement, the investment sum will be released in batches over a four-year window and will be deployed across a broad spectrum of the Malaysian economy. Described as the single largest investment by Microsoft in its 32-year history in Malaysia, the U.S.-based technology giant has four principal objectives.

A sizable amount will be deployed toward building new cloud and AI infrastructure for the Southeast Asian country. Since the start of the decade, there has been a growing demand for cloud computing services in Malaysia, and the government is seeking new avenues to meet the soaring demand.

By 2030, investments in cloud and AI could see Malaysia’s GDP grow by $115 billion, but the projections are a steep climb given the present infrastructure and manpower capabilities.

Aware of the country’s potential, Microsoft will provide AI skilling opportunities for up to 200,000 Malaysian residents to fuel the rising AI drive. Upskilling 200,000 individuals is no mean feat, but the company says it will rely on key partnerships with civil society organizations in the country to provide technical and vocational AI education.

“We are committed to supporting Malaysia’s AI transformation and ensure it benefits all Malaysians,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “Our investments in digital infrastructure and skilling will help Malaysian businesses, communities, and developers apply the latest technology to drive inclusive economic growth and innovation across the country.”

Some of the funds will be earmarked for the construction of a national AI Centre of Excellence—a move that will involve high-level partnerships with leading government agencies. Presently, preliminary discussions have been opened with the Ministry of Investment, the Malaysia Energy Commission, and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

The last arm of the investment strategy will involve supporting the growth of Malaysia’s developer community, focusing on minting 2,000 “AI subject matter experts” in the coming months.

Southeast Asia hogs Microsoft’s attention

In the quest to extend its global influence, Microsoft is turning its attention to Southeast Asia, touting its tech-savvy population as uncharted territories.

The need to deepen its ties has led the company to announce significant investments in Indonesia and Thailand to broaden capabilities for emerging technologies and equip 2.5 million persons with AI skills.

“Investing in AI skills is investing in a future where economic growth is inclusive, giving every person a chance to contribute and benefit,” said Andrea Della Mattea, president of ASEAN at Microsoft. “With a robust pool of talent skilled in disruptive technologies, ASEAN is well positioned for the global tech race.”

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