Microsoft Invests $2.2B to Bring AI, Cloud Technologies to Malaysia

Microsoft’s latest Asian AI expansion includes support for local upskilling efforts and government cybersecurity programs

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

May 3, 2024

3 Min Read
A bald man in a suite and glasses stood on a stage in front of a blue background
MOHD RASFAN/AFP via Getty Images

Microsoft’s ongoing AI spending spree continues as the company announced plans to invest $2.2 billion in Malaysia over the next four years to bring AI and cloud infrastructure to the Southeast Asian country.

Microsoft says its expansion will enable the company to meet the increasing demand for local cloud computing and AI services. Citing figures from Kearney, the company highlighted that Malaysia is expected to contribute $115 billion to Southeast Asia's total projected GDP growth of $1 trillion by 2030, a growth driven by advancements in AI.

Microsoft also pledged to support skill developing initiatives for 200,000 Malaysians, part of its wider pledge to enhance the skills of 2.5 million Southeast Asians by 2025.

The company will also work with the Government of Malaysia, establishing a national center of excellence for AI. Additionally, Microsoft will work with local authorities to improve the country’s cybersecurity landscape.

“We are committed to supporting Malaysia’s AI transformation and ensure it benefits all Malaysians,” said Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chair and CEO. “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.”

Related:Microsoft Invests $1.7B to Improve AI, Cloud Infrastructure in Indonesia

Microsoft Malaysia’s managing director Laurence Si said with the rising demand for cloud and AI, Microsoft’s investment underscores the company’s commitment to building a “robust digital ecosystem in the country.”

“From driving more innovations born in Malaysia, to fostering an ecosystem of skilled talents and enhancing cybersecurity capabilities for Malaysian organizations, we are dedicated to our role as a trusted technology partner to the nation,” Si said.

The announcements were made during the latest edition of Microsoft’s Build event in Kuala Lumpur. Another earlier version of the event took place in Indonesia earlier this week, which saw Microsoft make a similar investment pledge to support local AI efforts.

Microsoft said its $2.2 billion investment is its largest in Malaysia. This latest cash injection builds on its April 2021 “Bersama Malaysia” agreement, where Microsoft established its first data center in the country.

As part of its skills pledge, Microsoft will provide students with technical education on AI skills via the AI TEACH Malaysia program.

Malaysian women will receive help building cybersecurity-related skills through Microsoft’s support for the local Ready4AI&Security program.

Related:Microsoft Invests $1.5B to Bring AI to the Middle East

“Microsoft’s development of essential cloud and AI infrastructure, together with AI skilling opportunities, will significantly enhance Malaysia’s digital capacity and further elevate our position in the global tech landscape,” said Tengku Datuk Seri Utama Zafrul Abdul Aziz, Malaysia’s minister of investment, trade and industry. “Together with Microsoft, we look forward to creating more opportunities for our small and medium-sized enterprises and better-paying jobs for our people, as we ride the AI revolution to fast-track Malaysia’s digitally empowered growth journey.”

Microsoft's collaboration with the Malaysian government involves engaging in public sector projects, such as utilizing AI tools to analyze the economic effects of trade negotiations and enhance productivity within the country's energy agencies.

The company will also team with the National Cyber Security Agency of Malaysia to enhance the country’s cybersecurity capabilities through expanded security assessments.

“We are honored to collaborate with the government to support their National AI Framework, which enhances the country’s global competitiveness,” said Andrea Della Mattea, Microsoft’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations president. “This strategic emphasis on AI not only boosts economic growth but also promotes inclusivity by bridging the digital divide and ensuring everyone gets a seat at the table, so every Malaysian can thrive in this new digital world.”

Microsoft’s AI expansions in Indonesia and now Malaysia follow earlier expansions in Japan and the Middle East.

Its investments in local AI and cloud solutions align with findings from a recent Omdia report which states countries in Asia and Oceania are steering away from Western-centric AI solutions in favor of services more suitable for local languages, cultures and use cases.

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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