UAE, Kenya to advance digital infrastructure, AI initiatives - GulfToday

UAE, Kenya to advance digital infrastructure, AI initiatives


Top officials during the signing ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya.

The UAE Ministry of Investment and the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy of the Republic of Kenya have signed an Investment Memorandum establishing a framework for investment cooperation in digitalisation and technology.

In addition to exploring investments in digital infrastructure and artificial intelligence (AI) services in Kenya, the cooperation may include developing 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 Investment Memorandum was signed by Mohamed Hassan Alsuwaidi, Minister of Investment; and Eliud Owalo, Cabinet Secretary at the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy in Kenya.

Kenya has witnessed significant growth in its digital economy, primarily driven by the ICT sector, which has outperformed all other sectors, expanding by 23 per cent annually during the last decade.

As the largest economy in East Africa, Kenya is also becoming a preferred investment destination for data centre providers, with the growing demand for cloud services prompted by improved business conditions and new market entrants and the migration of many businesses to digital solutions. There are currently several operational data centres in the country, and the local data centre market is expected to witness a compound annual growth rate of 11.22 per cent between 2023 and 2028.

The Memorandum focuses on facilitating strong and effective relationships between public and private sector organisations in the two countries to enable cooperation in digital infrastructure projects. It additionally proposes implementing incentives to support pertinent initiatives.

The “digital corridor” concept is integral to this Memorandum, representing an interconnected network infrastructure enabling secure data exchange, hosting, processing, and transmission between the UAE and Kenya.

Alsuwaidi said, “A closer partnership between our two nations harbours remarkable opportunities in numerous fields that can contribute to the continued strengthening and advancement of our economies. 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.”

Owalo commented, “Collaboration between Kenya and the UAE goes beyond strategy; it is poised to strengthen the bonds between our two nations. With the potential to bridge the digital divide in Africa, expedite technological innovation, and foster a sustainable future for the ICT industry, this partnership will pave the way for a more inclusive and interconnected digital world.”

The Memorandum was signed on the heels of the UAE and Kenya finalising a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), marking a milestone as the first CEPA between the two countries, deepening investment ties and boosting bilateral non-oil trade, which reached $3.1 billion in 2023, up 26.4 per cent on 2022.

The Ministry of Economy announced recently that Kenya is the latest country to secure access to the UAE’s Trade for Development platform, which was launched by Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, during the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi in February.

Dr Al Zeyoudi said, “The Trade for Development platform underlines the UAE’s commitment to enhancing inclusive, sustainable trade and leveraging its power to drive economic growth and prosperity throughout the world. As we have rapidly expanded our trade relations in recent years, we have developed extensive experience and expertise in the complex world of trade negotiations.

We welcome Kenya’s enrolment, which provides an opportunity for their policymakers and trade officials to benefit from best-in-class expertise, empowering them to better integrate with the global economy, accelerate their development and raise living standards for their citizens.”

The Trade for Development platform is a technical assistance programme developed by the UAE that offers a suite of online tools to assist trade officials, negotiators, and policymakers from developing and least developed nations build the technical capacity and expertise needed to negotiate complex and highly technical trade agreements.

Lack of resources and technical expertise is considered the main obstacle to many countries in effectively participating in the global economy and truly benefiting from the multilateral trading system.

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