Generous Alibaba to scatter 0.9% of annual revenue over Southeast Asia to develop tech talent and infrastructure

Also announces buttload of new products at Cloud Summit event


Alibaba proclaimed at its Cloud Summit 2021 that it is ploughing $1bn into "Project AsiaForward", an initiative focused on expansion and development in Southeast Asia.

The project includes training, partnerships with universities, and infrastructure development.

The Chinese e-commerce company said today it hoped the cash pot would "cultivate a million-strong digital talent pool, empower 100,000 developers and the growth of 100,000 technology startups in Asia Pacific (APAC) over the next three years."

The 100,000 developers would receive training for general cloud skillsets like PolarDB, Alibaba's open-source database platform.

Alibaba has already opened its third data centre in Indonesia and plans to bring its first online in the Philippines by the end of 2021.

Malaysia will get Alibaba's first international innovation centre where small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), startups, and developers will receive cloud technology and business leadership training, subsidized office space, mentorships, and venture capital networking. The e-giant is working with local partner Handsprofit to make the Malaysia centre a reality.

To round out the initiative with an academia-linked project, Alibaba is joining forces with Nanyang Technological University to offer courses on Big Data and AI in its MiniMasters programs for working adults and alumni.

No details were given on how the billion would be split among the endeavours.

Alibaba investment outside of China follows a rocky relationship with Beijing. In April, Chinese authorities fined Alibaba Group $2.77bn. Although it was the largest antitrust penalty Beijing ever issued, it represents only 4 per cent of Alibaba's latest full-year revenues.

Other run-ins with the government include Alibaba being ordered to offload media assets and Beijing's last-minute blocking of Alibaba affiliate Ant Group's IPO. Ant Group later received the government's permission to become a consumer finance company.

In addition to the billion-dollar investment, Alibaba rolled out 20 new products.

Product upgrades include Alinux3 cloud OS, which will be globally available for the first time, and ECS 7, as part of Alibaba Cloud's infrastructure upgrades, which is powered by X-Dragon Architecture and third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors.

Also in the works is DMS, a cloud-native data management platform, and commercial releases of Alibaba Cloud database gear including major MySQL version coverage for PolarDB, a new elastic mode for AnalyticDB, MyBase, ClickHouse, and cloud-native multi-model database Lindorm. ®

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