Vodafone and Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday announced a new, far-reaching 10-year strategic partnership that leverages their respective strengths in offering scaled digital platforms to more than 300 million businesses, public sector organisations, and consumers across Europe and Africa. The partnership is set to benefit more than 60 million customers and 5 million businesses across M-PESA’S eight markets with Microsoft hosting the M-PESA platform on its Azure cloud while also co-developing new cloud applications with M-PESA Africa.
Through the partnership, the companies 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.
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.
Microsoft also intends to invest 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.
The 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.
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, particularly small and medium-sized companies, and step up the quality of customer experience for consumers.Margherita Della Valle, Chief Executive Officer, Vodafone Group
This new generation of AI will unlock massive new opportunities for every organisation and every industry around the world. We are delighted that together with Vodafone we will apply the latest cloud and AI technology 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.Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO, Microsoft
One of the key areas of collaboration is the African digital acceleration. Microsoft 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.