Marianne Young

Marianne Young

High Commissioner, Windhoek

Part of UK in Namibia

6th January 2015 Windhoek, Namibia

Looking back and looking forward in Namibia

People are starting to slowly trickle back into Windhoek from their holidays all around the country and abroad – making this the perfect time to take stock and review the year that was – as well as to look ahead to the year to come.

I am proud to say that 2014 was a busy and productive year for the British High Commission and UK-Namibian relations.

HE Marianne Young handing Cheque to PAY
High Commissioner HE Marianne Young donating sporting equipment to local NGO Physically Active Youth in Katutura township to provide a strong local legacy from the Commonwealth Games to Namibia.

The year started off with a hearty blast of bagpipes to mark the arrival of the Queen’s Baton to Namibia as part of its mammoth journey through all Commonwealth countries ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July. We used the occasion to host a fun-filled Scottish reception complete with piper (specially flown in by a generous member of the British Business Group), whiskey tasting, homemade shortbread (kindly provided by members of the British community) and to celebrate the many benefits of the Commonwealth, Scotland (as host) and sport to developing a culture of excellence, particularly amongst the youth across the Commonwealth’s 53 nations.

Other notable visits included those of two Royal Navy war ships – HMS Portland and HMS Iron Duke – to Walvis Bay port in March and August to further strengthen our historic defence links with Namibia and serve as a backdrop to various outreach activities, and targeted commercial and security receptions. Our security sector support work was also expanded with the provision of a range of specialist military training to the Namibian Defence Force, and the national roll out of our UK-specialist community policing support project following a successful trial project in the capital.

Group Picture_Billboard Launch
HE Marianne Young launching the nationwide community policing initiative with head of the Namibian Police, Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga

On the commercial side, the British Business Group also continued to expand with the opening of a new Shell presence in Namibia to focus on offshore oil exploration and London-listed QKR Corporation’s acquisition of Navachab Gold Mine.

My team hosted a series of well attended business events, including the launch of the updated Doing Business in Namibia Guide and a specially commissioned report on Easing the Way for Investment in Namibia, as well as Business Group discussions on incorporating human rights into business dealings with guest speakers from the International Labour Organisation, and lunchtime discussions with the Minister of Trade & Investment and Petroleum Commissioner, amongst others.

We were delighted that Namibian Foreign Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah was able to travel to London in February to join the UK’s ground-breaking Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference aimed at halting the global growth of trade in poached and endangered animals. The High Commission is pleased to have been able to follow up this UK foreign policy priority locally in Namibia with support to Save the Rhino’s anti-poaching campaign. (More to follow on this exciting project shortly.)

Another major British foreign policy focus that Namibia supported was the UK-led Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative. We were delighted that SWAPO Chief Whip and long time Anglophile, Professor Peter Katjavivi, was able to attend the PSVI Global Summit in London in June after joining me to host a lively Model UN debate on ending sexual violence in conflict at the University of Namibia.

On the education side, Namibian links with various British universities and research institutions continued to expand with visits by the University of Cardiff, the Glasgow Caledonian University and the London School of Health & Tropical Medicine to Namibian educational institutions, and the doubling of our Chevening scholarships available for future Namibian leaders to benefit from masters studies at British tertiary institutions.  The British Council office at the High Commission continues to engage young and influential Namibians with a range of partnerships with both government and non-governmental organisations that focus on English language, sport, education and leadership training.

These many activities helped build up to the biggest political event of the year in November: the Namibian national and presidential elections, which marked Africa’s first electronic poll and was deemed free and fair, despite a few technical teething issues.

It is hard to select my favourite moments from out of all this activity but personal highlights include: spending a fascinating day with the members of a local conservancy group in the north east Kavango region to learn how UK support had helped them change their view of local wildlife from being a threat to being an asset to protect (see conservation blog); hearing inspiring stories of resilience and hope from victims and community workers during a UK-funded human rights workshop in Luderitz promoting community awareness of legal rights and redress to tackle Namibia’s high domestic violence rates; and witnessing the remarkable stoicism of the long queues of hundreds of voters waiting for hours under the scorching Namibian sun this summer – not something that many British voters would endure with such dignity and patience.

Marianne Young election observation
HE Marianne Young officially observing the national and presidential elections in Katutura township in November

So, looking ahead through 2015, there will be plenty of post election work to focus on once the new Head of State, Hage Geingob, is inaugurated in March and a fresh line up to ministers is named. My team will be working hard to establish and renew relationships with key officials as fresh appointments and portfolios are confirmed. We have a number of visits in the pipeline too and plan to continue expanding our team in Windhoek with the addition of new commercial officers.

This will also be my last year in Namibia as my ambassadorial posting is set to end midyear. My four years here have flown by unbelievably fast and it has been a real privilege to help build up the UK presence in Namibia and work together with both the authorities and people of the ‘Land of the Brave’ to boost our commercial, security, cultural and education links – and work together on global issues with Namibia more widely.

So plenty achieved and plenty to keep us busy – and I look forward to working with many of you to strengthen UK-Namibian links still further and keep building on our excellent relations during my remaining 7 months here.

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2015, Marianne Young

About Marianne Young

Marianne Young is the current British High Commissioner to the Republic of Namibia. She arrived in Windhoek in June 2011 and presented her credentials to the President of the Republic of…

Marianne Young is the current British High Commissioner to the
Republic of Namibia. She arrived in Windhoek in June 2011 and presented
her credentials to the President of the Republic of Namibia on 3rd
Mrs Young joined the FCO in 2001 following a career in international
journalism, including time spent running an Asian maritime press office
in Singapore and a traineeship on the UK’s Times newspaper.
Her first role in the FCO was as a Press Officer in News Department,
after which she went on to be Head of the Great Lakes Section in Africa
Directorate and then Head of the East Africa & Horn Section.
In 2005, she became the first Head of Communications for the Engaging with the Islamic World Group.
She moved to the British High Commission in Pretoria in February 2007
and served as the Head of the External Political Section and Deputy
High Commissioner to the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland.
Mrs Young moved across to the British High Commission in Windhoek in
June 2011, and presented her credentials to the President of the
Republic of Namibia on 3rd August 2011.
On her appointment as British High Commissioner to the Republic of Namibia, Mrs Young said:
“I am honoured and delighted to be appointed Her Majesty’s High
Commissioner to Namibia. I look forward to working to strengthen the
many commercial, political and cultural ties between our two countries,
and to help the many British nationals who holiday there. My family and I
are particularly thrilled to be remaining in southern Africa – and to
have the opportunity to explore this beautiful country further and
discover more about its people and culture.”
Curriculum vitae

Full name:
Marianne Young

Married to:
Barry Young

Two daughters and one son

June 2011
Windhoek, British High Commissioner

2007 – 2011
Pretoria, Head of External Political Section and DHC for the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland

2005 – 2006
FCO, Head of Communications, Engaging with the Islamic World Group

2004 – 2005
FCO, Head of East Africa & Horn Section, Africa Directorate

3/2003 – 8/2003
FCO, Head of Great Lakes Section, Africa Directorate

2002 – 2003
FCO, Press Officer, Press Office

2001 – 2002
FCO, Departmental Report Editor, Press Office

Joined FCO

Senior Correspondent, Fairplay Group, UK

Staff Editor and then Asia Editor, Fairplay Group Singapore

Graduate Trainee at The Times newspaper, UK

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