Microsoft pours $2.2 billion into Malaysia for cloud and AI expansion

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Microsoft has announced a $2.2 billion investment over four years in Malaysia to expand cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) services.

According to a blog post, the investment is the largest in Microsoft’s 32-year history in Malaysia. It will include building cloud and AI infrastructure, creating AI-skilling opportunities for 200,000 people, and supporting the country’s developers.

Microsoft also plans to collaborate with the Malaysian government to establish a national AI Centre of Excellence and strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity capabilities. 

Following his meeting with Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella on Thursday, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim stated that the investment aligns with Malaysia’s efforts to enhance its AI capabilities.

Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella said during a visit to Kuala Lumpur:

“We want to make sure we have world-class infrastructure right here in the country so that every organization and startup can benefit.” 

According to research by global consulting firm Kearney, AI is poised to contribute $1 trillion to Southeast Asia’s gross domestic product by 2030, with Malaysia poised to capture US$115 billion.

Microsoft is trying to expand its support for the development of AI globally. This week, Nadella announced a $1.7 billion investment in neighboring Indonesia and said Microsoft would open its first regional data center in Thailand.

On Feb. 20, Microsoft announced another significant investment in Europe with a $2.1 billion commitment to expand its AI and cloud infrastructure in Spain. This investment follows a separate commitment of three billion euros to develop Germany’s AI ecosystem announced on Feb. 15.

Related: AI takes center stage as Microsoft and Google earnings signal booming market

Big Tech companies are investing in Europe for AI development as the European Union prepares to implement its landmark EU AI Act legislation.

Tech giant Google announced its “AI Opportunity Initiative for Europe” in February. The initiative involves investing 25 million euros ($26.9 million) in skills training for Europeans in the AI sector.

Google collaborates with EU governments, civil society, academics, and businesses to provide AI training for local startups. It allocates funds to equip workers with essential skills and prevent them from being left behind.

In 2023, the Italian government launched a comparable initiative, putting aside millions of euros to enhance the digital skills of workers facing job displacement from automation and AI.

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