July 22, 2024
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Telecommunications Group, Vodafone, has signed a deal with Microsoft involving a $1.5 billion investment in AI and cloud services to boost adoption in Africa.

In the deal announced on Tuesday, Vodafone will invest $1.5 billion over the next 10 years in cloud and customer-focused AI services developed in conjunction with Microsoft.

Additionally, Microsoft will use Vodafone’s fixed and mobile connectivity services.

The Vodafone Group, a British multinational telecommunications company, predominantly operates in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania.

The company currently provides services in eight African countries including DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania.

The partnership will also see Microsoft investing in Vodafone’s managed IoT connectivity platform, which will become a separate, standalone business by April 2024.

The new company will attract new partners and customers, driving growth in applications and expanding the platform to connect more devices, vehicles, and machines.

According to the deal’s plans, the digital services generated by the new partnership will use the latest generative AI technology to provide a highly personalized and differentiated customer experience across multiple channels.

They will be built on unbiased and ethical privacy and security policies under Vodafone’s established framework for responsible AI.

Commenting on the deal, Vodafone Group’s chief executive, Margherita Della Valle, said:

“Today, Vodafone has made a bold commitment to the digital future of Europe and Africa. This unique strategic partnership with Microsoft will accelerate the digital transformation of our business customers, tiny and medium-sized companies, and improve the quality of customer experience for consumers.”

The chairman and CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella, also commented saying:

“This new generation of AI will unlock massive new opportunities for every organization and every industry around the world.

We are delighted that we will apply the latest cloud and AI technology together with Vodafone to enhance the customer experience of hundreds of millions of people and businesses across Africa and Europe, build new products and services, and accelerate the company’s transition to the cloud.”

The two companies said they have identified five key areas of collaboration which include Generative AI, Scaling IoT, Africa Digital Acceleration, Enterprise Growth, and Cloud Transformation.

Through African digital acceleration, Microsoft said it intends to help further scale M-Pesa, already the largest financial technology platform in Africa, by housing it on Azure and enabling the launch of new cloud-native applications.

The companies are also launching a purpose-led program that seeks to enrich the lives of 100 million consumers and 1 million SMEs across the African continent.

The goal is to enhance digital literacy, skilling, and youth outreach programs, as well as offer digital services to the underserved SME market.

The partnership aims to boost financial services innovation, building a community of certified developers.

On generative AI, the two companies will apply the power of Microsoft Azure OpenAI to deliver frictionless, real-time, proactive, and hyper personalized experiences across all Vodafone customer touchpoints, including its digital assistant TOBi (available in 13 countries).

Vodafone employees will also be able to leverage the AI capabilities of Microsoft Copilot to transform working practices, boost productivity, and improve digital efficiency.

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