UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


MOIN South Africa

What is MOIN South Africa?


MOIN South Africa is a dedicated chapter of the Mission-Oriented Innovation Network which works with policy makers and academics to explore how mission-oriented innovation can tackle grand challenges in the South African context; with a particular focus on mobilising a just, green energy transition.  

Launched in 2021, with the support of The Rockefeller Foundation, and working with a situated academic and practitioner network in South Africa, the programme will provide research evidence on windows of green opportunities in the country. Alongside this, and in collaboration with the South African National School of Government, the programme also provides Executive Education courses to enable state capacity building within the South African public sector.  

Goals of MOIN South Africa  

  1. Build a situated academic and practitioner network by:  

  • Co-developing and designing a mission for a just energy transition in South Africa.  
  • Providing research evidence on windows of green opportunities in South Africa (focus on energy sector restructuring and finance)  
  • Providing executive education and capacity building support to South Africa public sector actors.  

  2. Deepen key MOIN partnerships in South Africa and the Global South  


How can South Africa advance a new energy paradigm? A mission-oriented approach to megaprojects - Andreoni, A., Creamer, K., Mazzucato, M and Steyn, G. (2022) UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Working Paper Series (No. WP 2022/03). See also a link to the journal article in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy.

Green transition is a ‘wicked’ problem in that it is complex, systemic, interconnected, and urgent. In this paper we advance a ‘mission-oriented’ approach to reconceptualise energy megaprojects within a systemic, cross-sectoral and challenge driven policy framework for energy transition.

Building state capacities and dynamic capabilities to drive social and economic development: The case of South Africa. Mazzucato, M., Qobo, M. and Kattel, R. (2021) UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Working Paper Series (IIPP WP 2021/09).

South Africa has not lacked policies, it has lacked dynamic capabilities inside the public sector to implement those policies. This paper tackles this question head on, beginning with a different notion of the state—not just a market fixer but also a market co-creator and shaper. We focus on three inter-related areas: the dynamic capabilities needed to improve implementation of chosen strategic missions and related programmes; innovation in public service; and the idea of a developmental state whose aim is to achieve both greater efficiencies and equity outcomes.

Related News Articles

Building state capacity for a just energy transition - Business Day South Africa

Africa faces huge food-supply obstacles – and time is running out - Daily Maverick South Africa 

Opinion: A mission-oriented approach needed for South Africa’s energy transition - Engineering News South Africa

Renewable-energy transition ‘only true path to energy security’ - Engineering News South Africa

Policy Engagement Highlights

IIPP contributes to South Africa's Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) work around COVID-19

In October 2019, IIPP Director Professor Mariana Mazzucato was appointed by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to his Economic Advisory Council (PEAC). The Council was announced by President Ramaphosa in the State of the Nation Address to ensure greater coherence and consistency in the implementation of economic policy and ensure that government and society in general is better equipped to respond to changing economic circumstances. Mariana's participation focussed on two main workstreams: one on energy and the other on industrial policy, in addition to continuous work on state-capacity as a cross-cutting theme.

MOIN South Africa supporters