Innovation is a catalyst for social and economic development and as such a precondition for progress. Given the need to increase economic activity and expand GDP in Eswatini, this study documents the history of innovation in Eswatini and assesses the potential for the traditional sector as a source of new growth. The study purposively sampled and interviewed 129 producers in the Manzini, Mbabane, and Ezulwini market places and complemented the surveys with an extensive analysis of the innovation and industrial development literature in Eswatini. The study finds that whereas Emaswati are innovative, innovation has been incremental and driven by global technological developments, government policy, new market opportunities, and changes in lifestyle and society. The study confirms that the traditional sector is a viable source of new growth. However, to realise its true potential there is a need to address the demand and supply side factors that inhibit production and innovation in traditional industries. Therefore combining modern technology with traditional knowledge and skills presents opportunities for value creation, product development or improvement, differentiation, and improving the competitiveness of Eswatini’s indigenous products in global markets. However, for this to happen requires investments in research and experimental development, innovative marketing strategies, innovation, and setting of progressive standards and quality assurance systems.

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