Microsoft to Invest $1.7 Billion in Indonesia for AI, Cloud

Microsoft Corp. will invest $1.7 billion to build out cloud computing and artificial intelligence infrastructure in Indonesia, betting on Southeast Asia’s biggest economy to spur growth.

Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella announced the outlay, to be made over four years, after meeting with President Joko Widodo in Jakarta on Tuesday. The company also pledged to help train 2.5 million people in Southeast Asia with AI skills, including 840,000 in Indonesia.

Microsoft’s leader is on a three-country tour of Southeast Asia. The region, once neglected by corporate chieftains who focused on giant economies such as China and India, has become more popular of late as CEOs jockey for position during a time of rising geopolitical tensions. It’s one of the biggest battlegrounds for technology giants and startups from China and the US. Before Nadella, Nvidia Corp.’s Jensen Huang and Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook also paid high-profile visits to the region, chasing a young and tech-savvy population as Chinese growth wanes.

“The intelligence revolution is going to be the next major bend in the curve of GDP growth,” Nadella told hundreds of attendees at a company event in Jakarta, including software developers, ministers and CEOs. “This is going to have a real impact even in Indonesia where we will have in the region 10%-12% extra growth.”

AI has become the primary agenda for Nadella as he traverses countries and conferences from India to the World Economic Forum, exhorting nations and businesses to invest in the tech and train their populations, while talking up the potential of AI to re-make entire economies. He is slated to visit Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur later this week.

age of AI

Microsoft and rivals such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Meta Platforms Inc. are locked in a battle for AI dominance. The Redmond, Washington-based firm, the world’s most valuable company, has joined forces with OpenAI to challenge Google’s two-decade lead in internet search.