Skip to content

Vodafone signs $1.5 billion Microsoft deal to boost Africa's AI experience

Vodafone and Microsoft have officially entered into a strategic 10-year partnership aimed at advancing technology in Africa

On Tuesday, Vodafone and Microsoft announced a new, far-reaching 10-year strategic partnership leveraging their strengths in offering scaled digital platforms to more than 300 million businesses, public sector organisations, and consumers across Europe and Africa.

Vodafone Group (a British multinational telecommunications company) will look to invest $1.5 billion in customer-focused AI developed with Microsoft's Azure OpenAI and Copilot technologies, it said and will replace physical data centres with cheaper and scalable Azure cloud services.

On the other hand, Microsoft will become an equity investor in Vodafone's managed IoT (Internet of Things) platform when it is spun out as a standalone business by April 2024 and help scale Vodafone's mobile financial platform in Africa.

Speaking 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."
Margherita Della Valle(vodafone) and Satya Nadella (Microsoft)|Source: TelecomTV
The chairman of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, also said: "This new generation of AI will unlock massive new opportunities for every organisation 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," he added.

Through the partnership, the companies announced they will collaborate to transform Vodafone's customer experience using Microsoft's generative AI, hyperscale Vodafone's leading managed IoT connectivity platform, develop new digital and financial services for businesses, particularly SMEs across Europe and Africa, and overhaul its global data centre cloud strategy.

Also, digital services generated by the new partnership will use the latest generative AI technology to provide a highly personalised 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.

The companies have identified five critical areas of collaboration: generative AI, IoT, African digital acceleration, enterprise growth, and cloud transformation. Under Africa digital acceleration, Microsoft said it intends to help further scale mobile money payment service M-Pesa by housing it on Azure and enabling the launch of new cloud-native applications.