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Alibaba pledges $1B for APAC data centre expansion

Written by Tue 8 Jun 2021

Alibaba Corporation has announced a sweeping strategy to increase its presence in Southeast Asia.

Known as Project AsiaForward, the corporation committed an initial $1 billion US that will be put toward a data centre in the Philippines and an innovation centre in Malaysia, as well as supporting the digital transformation of companies and talent in Southeast Asia.

The Philippines data centre is expected to be operational by the end of the year. It will be Alibaba’s first in the area, expanding the availability of Alibaba Cloud services to an area where demand is increasing dramatically.

“Innovative technology is critical to the recovery from COVID-19, while a strong pipeline well-versed in digital applications is needed to support the sustainable development of today’s digital economy, “ said Jeff Zhang, President of Alibaba Cloud. “We are seeing a strong demand for cloud-native technologies in emerging verticals across the region, from e-commerce and logistics platforms to fintech and online entertainment.”

Zhang elaborated on the positive effect that Project AsiaForward’s strategic combination of funding, infrastructure, and talent can have on the local economy.

“We are committed to bettering the [Asia-Pacific] region’s cloud ecosystem and enhancing its digital infrastructure. Our focus on innovation and data centre investments, as well as talent development, is in anticipation of a digital-first future,” Zhang said.

A segment of the $1 billion investment will be devoted to nurturing developers, with the goal of building a talent pool of a million individuals by providing training. Learning programs include the launch of the Malaysian innovation centre – the first Alibaba innovation centre outside of China, with a goal of providing technical training to 30,000 Malaysian people this year. Alibaba has also created a joint initiative with a Singaporean university to offer artificial intelligence courses to students.

Project AsiaForward also aims to support the startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia, by connecting entrepreneurs with support, funding and new opportunities.

Selina Yuan, Vice President of International Business for Alibaba said that the company’s investment in local businesses will support digital transformation in the area, adding, “We see these investments as all the more timely given the impact of the pandemic and the sharp rise in demand for digital business tools.”

The announcement of Project AsiaForward is a powerful tool for changing the conversation around Alibaba, which lately has centred on the $2.8 billion fine levied on the company in April of this year. The State Administration for Market Regulations (SAMR) in China imposed a fine on Alibaba for forcing online merchants to use the Alibaba e-Commerce platform exclusively, thereby “abusing its dominant market position.”

Written by Tue 8 Jun 2021

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digital infrastructure digital transformation innovation
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