UAE signs deal to explore investment in data centres and AI projects in Kazakhstan

Central Asian country aims to boost its tech capabilities to attract more foreign investors

Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Businesses in the Central Asian nation are increasingly using technology to improve their processes, costs and competitiveness. AP
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The UAE and Kazakhstan have signed a preliminary agreement to explore investment opportunities for data centres and artificial intelligence in Central Asia's largest economy.

The partnership between the UAE Ministry of Investment, Kazakhstan's Ministry of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry and the $70 billion sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna aims to create a framework for co-operation, the UAE ministry said in a statement on Friday.

It aims to develop Kazakhstan's technological capabilities and promote digitisation in its society, which, in turn, will help its wider ambition of attracting more foreign investment and inviting international companies set up their base in the nation, it said.

The collaboration will see the bodies developing bilateral ties between public and private organisations, introducing incentives to support relevant projects and enabling the exchange of knowledge.

This is in addition to the expected boost it will give to the economic relationship between the two countries.

The agreement was signed by Mohamed Alsuwaidi, Minister of Investment, Bagdat Mussin, Kazakhstan's Minister of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry, and Nurlan Zhakupov, chairman of Samruk-Kazyna's management board.

“The agreement reflects our commitment to further strengthening relations between our two nations and working together to realise a shared vision for economic advancement," Mr Alsuwaidi said.

"The planned investments in data centre and AI projects in Kazakhstan will help enhance the nation’s expanding digital infrastructure, offering businesses more opportunities to embrace and gain advantages from digitisation.”

Data consumption has increased over the past years as remote work trends, largely set off by the Covid-19 pandemic, have fuelled the adoption of cloud services.

In Kazakhstan, revenue in its data centre market is projected to hit nearly $417 billion by 2028, from an estimated $320 billion this year, expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 6.8 per cent, data from Statista shows.

AI, meanwhile, is a technology, which is registering sustained demand, with Kazakh businesses increasingly looking to improve their processes, costs and competitiveness, it said.

The establishment and growth of data centres is "pivotal" for Kazakhstan’s technological advancement, Mr Zhakupov said.

"They serve as the backbone of innovation, fostering economic development and propelling the nation into the forefront of the global digital landscape," he said.

The latest partnership is part of the UAE's continuing efforts to support Kazakhstan's economy.

Last year, Presight AI, a unit of Abu Dhabi's G42 group, said it had entered into a joint venture with Samruk-Kazyna to accelerate digital transformation in Kazakhstan.

Abu Dhabi's clean energy company Masdar and Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation have also signed up for a wind energy project and a uranium supply deal, respectively.

Kazakhstan’s exports to the UAE were estimated at $560.34 million in 2022, while the Emirates' exports to the Central Asian country hit $1.69 billion, according to latest government data.

Updated: January 12, 2024, 2:58 PM