The UAE is exploring investments in digital infrastructure and artificial intelligence (AI) services in Kenya in its bid to bridge the digital divide in Africa and expedite technological innovation in the continent. 

Both countries have signed an investment memorandum to advance digital infrastructure and AI initiatives. The cooperation may include the development of data centre projects with a total capacity of up to 1,000 megawatts. In the field of AI, the technical and investment potential of developing large language models will be assessed.

The memorandum was signed by Mohamed Hassan Alsuwaidi, Minister of Investment of the UAE, and Eliud Owalo, Cabinet Secretary at the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy in Kenya. It aims to provide an effective nexus between public and private sector organisations in the two countries to enable cooperation in digital infrastructure projects.

“Through targeted investments in digital infrastructure and artificial intelligence, this Investment Memorandum is set to accelerate the development of a sector that has the potential to become a growth driver for other industries, setting out a vision for the future defined by prosperity and progress,” Alsuwaidi said. 

Kenya's ICT sector has marked a robust growth, expanding by 23% annually during the last decade. The East Africa's largest economy is also a preferred investment destination for data centre providers.

The bilateral non-oil trade between both the countries reached $3.1 billion in 2023, up 26.4% on 2022.

UAE’s AI giant eyes Africa

Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence (AI) giant G42 will expand to Africa this year as the continent is an important territory in its geographical expansion plans, Kiril Evtimov, G42's Group Chief Technology Officer, told Zawya in an interview.

The company's strategy includes developing capabilities in financial services solutions, government services and the SME landscape.

"Financial services solutions will definitely be a big part of our portfolio in Africa. It's too early to comment whether it will be in the payment services or micro-lending space," Kiril said.

(Reporting by Seban Scaria; editing  by Daniel Luiz)