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Microsoft CEO Announces AI Investments in Indonesia, Thailand

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Microsoft CEO Announces AI Investments in Indonesia, Thailand

Satya Nadella has pledged to expand the infrastructure needed to support the firm’s AI services in the fast-growing region.

Microsoft CEO Announces AI Investments in Indonesia, Thailand

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks during the “Microsoft Build: AI Day” event in Bangkok, Thailand, May 1, 2024.

Credit: Facebook/เศรษฐา ทวีสิน – Srettha Thavisin

The U.S. tech giant Microsoft has announced a series of significant investments in artificial intelligence (AI) infrastructure in Indonesia and Thailand, as the firm’s Chief Executive Satya Nadella toured the region.

Speaking yesterday at an event in Bangkok, Nadella announced that Microsoft planned to open its first regional data center, with an eye to boosting the availability of its Azure cloud computing platform in the country. “What that means is not only do you have full capability of Azure in Thailand, but the best world-class AI infrastructure,” Nadella said at an event in the Thai capital, Reuters reported.

In a concurrent statement, Microsoft said that the data center “will expand the availability of Microsoft’s hyperscale cloud services,” which will  “provide AI skilling opportunities for over 100,000 people, and support the nation’s growing developer community.”

In a post on social media quoted by Reuters, Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin stated that the investment marked “an important turning point in the development of Thailand’s digital economy,” and would increase the country’s competitiveness and fuel the growth of its economy.

Nadella’s visit to Thailand was part of a swift tour of three Southeast Asian countries aimed at promoting Microsoft’s generative AI technology.

The day before, in Jakarta, the Microsoft CEO said that the firm would invest $1.7 billion over the next four years to expand cloud services and data centers to expand the infrastructure for AI in Indonesia.

Microsoft will “bring the latest and greatest AI infrastructure to Indonesia,” Nadella said during a similar event in Jakarta. Nadella said the firm’s goal is to train 2.5 million people in Southeast Asia in AI use by 2025, including 840,000 in Indonesia.

“We’re gonna lead this wave in terms of the next generation of AI infrastructure that’s needed. And of course, we’ll have the best selection of models,” he said, referring to Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service and the French open-source startup Mistral AI, in which Microsoft is a key investor.

In a statement, Apple said that the $1.7 billion “represents the single largest investment” in the company’s 29-year history in Indonesia. During a meeting between Nadella and President Joko Widodo, Nikkei Asia reported that the Indonesian leader suggested that Microsoft’s new facilities be built on Bali or in Nusantara, Indonesia’s planned new capital on the island of Borneo.

Microsoft’s interest in Southeast Asia is no surprise. With its population of more than 690 million, the region is increasingly important as both a market and manufacturing base, especially for U.S. firms seeking to reduce their dependence on Chinese supply chains. Many nations in the region have a reciprocal interest in investment from the U.S. tech giants, given the misgivings that some nations have about China’s increasingly prominent position in the technological sphere. Nadella’s visit came not long after his rival, Apple CEO Tim Cook, undertook his own tour of Southeast Asia, making stops in Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

During the trip, he announced a similar suite of investment plans, including a $250 million expansion of its headquarters in Singapore. He also pledged to invest in Vietnam and said the firm plans more components for its devices from Vietnamese suppliers, and said that the company would “look at” opening a factory in Indonesia. According to Bloomberg, the company is also getting close to opening the first Apple Store in Malaysia, at the luxury Exchange shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, which would supplement its three existing stores in Singapore and two in Thailand.

Nadella is scheduled to arrive in Malaysia today.