American technology firm Microsoft has on Thursday announced that it will invest $2.2 billion over the next four years to support Malaysia’s digital transformation – the single largest investment in its 32-year history in the country.

Microsoft said in a statement that its investment includes building cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) infrastructure in Malaysia; creating AI skilling opportunities for an additional 200,000 people in Malaysia; strengthening its partnership with the government of Malaysia to establish a national AI Center of Excellence and enhance the nation’s cybersecurity capabilities; supporting the growth of Malaysia’s developer community.

Microsoft said the investment demonstrates its commitment to developing Malaysia as a hub for cloud computing and related advanced technologies, including generative AI.

This will support the nation’s productivity, competitiveness, resilience, and economic growth, it added.

“We are committed to supporting Malaysia’s AI transformation and ensure it benefits all Malaysians,

“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,” said Satya Nadella, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft.

Zafrul Abdul Aziz, Malaysia’s Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, said that Microsoft’s development of essential cloud and AI infrastructure, together with AI skilling opportunities, will significantly enhance Malaysia’s digital capacity and further elevate its position in the global tech landscape.

“Together with Microsoft, we look forward to creating more opportunities for our small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and better-paying jobs for our people, as we ride the AI revolution to fast-track Malaysia’s digitally empowered growth journey,” he added.

Andrea Della Mattea, President of Microsoft ASEAN, said that 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.

“As a result, Malaysia is steadily establishing itself as a regional hub for digital innovation and smart technologies, embodying a forward-thinking approach that prioritizes sustainable development and societal well-being through digital transformation,” he added.

According to the statement, the digital infrastructure investment builds on Microsoft’s Bersama Malaysia (Together with Malaysia) initiative, announced in April 2021, to support inclusive economic growth.

This included plans to establish the company’s first datacenter region in the country.

Microsoft said the investment announced will enable the firm to meet the growing demand for cloud computing services in Malaysia.

It will also allow Malaysia to capitalize on the significant economic and productivity opportunities presented by the latest AI technology, it said.

Cited a research by Kearney, it said AI could contribute nearly $1 trillion to Southeast Asia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030, with Malaysia poised to capture $115 billion of this amount.

Microsoft also said its skilling commitment is expected to benefit 200,000 people in Malaysia.

The skilling commitment includes providing technical and vocational education and training students with AI skills through the AI TEACH Malaysia program.

Microsoft will also provides women in Malaysia with opportunities and support to build careers in cybersecurity via the Ready4AI&Security program.

It will also provides young people in Malaysia with AI fluency training to enhance the employability and work readiness of those from underserved and underrepresented communities; employees of non-profit organizations in Malaysia with knowledge of, and skills in, AI and digital technologies.

The commitment builds on Microsoft’s other recent skilling activities in Malaysia, including its success in providing digital skills to more than 1.53 million Malaysians as part of the Bersama Malaysia initiative.

Microsoft said it will continue to partner with the government of Malaysia to enhance the nation’s digital ecosystem through several initiatives.

These include establishing a national AI Centre of Excellence in collaboration with agencies in Malaysia’s Ministry of Digital to drive AI adoption across key industries, while ensuring AI governance and regulatory compliance.

Microsoft will also collaborate with the National Cyber Security Agency of Malaysia (NACSA) through the Perisai Siber (Cyber Shield) initiative to enhance the country’s cybersecurity capabilities.

The collaboration will focus on promoting security and resilience in the public sector through security assessments and capacity building.

In addition, Microsoft will look to support NACSA in its role as Malaysia’s lead agency for cybersecurity matters, as it formulates the next stage of the nation’s cybersecurity strategy.

The two organizations will also explore deeper collaborations in developing cybersecurity skills through initiatives such as Microsoft’s Ready4AI&Security program.

Microsoft said it will also continues to help foster the growth of Malaysia’s developer community through new initiatives such as AI Odyssey, which is expected to help 2,000 Malaysian developers become AI subject matter experts by learning new skills and earning Microsoft credentials.

It is noted that Malaysia is a rapidly growing market on GitHub, the Microsoft-owned software development, collaboration, and innovation platform.

It is also noted that almost 680,000 of the nation’s developers used GitHub in 2023, representing 28 percent year-on-year growth.

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