Vodafone and Microsoft have entered a ten-year partnership to develop new digital and financial services for businesses in Europe and Africa, particularly SMEs.
Vodafone will invest $1.5 billion over the next decade in cloud and customer-focused AI services developed in conjunction with Microsoft, and Microsoft will use Vodafone’s fixed and mobile connectivity services.
The partnership will see the mobile operator transforming its customer-facing services by using Microsoft Azure's OpenAI and Copilot technologies.
Microsoft will become an equity partner in Vodafone’s managed IOT connectivity platform, which will be spun off as a standalone business in April 2024, while Vodafone will join the Azure ecosystem, offering the IOT platform to a broad developer community via open APIs.
Using Azure as its cloud platform, Vodafone will be able to modernise and reduce its data centre footprint, replacing multiple physical data centres with virtual ones across Europe.
Africa digital acceleration
In the joint statement issued yesterday, Vodafone and Microsoft also highlighted ‘Africa digital acceleration’ as key focus areas of their partnership.
Microsoft intends to help further scale M-Pesa by housing it on Azure.
In addition, the companies are launching a programme that aims to enhance digital literacy, skilling and youth outreach initiatives, as well as offer digital services to the underserved SME market.