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West Africa Time Zone UTC+01:00

 Capital City Windhoek

Currency Namibian Dollar

National Day 21 Mar

Her Excellency Ms Linda Scott
High Commissioner
Namibian High Commission
6 Chandos Street
London W1G 9LU
T: 020 7636 6244
F: 020 7637 5694
E: info@namibiahc.org.uk

NAMIBIA’S HIGH COMMISSIONER Linda Scott, arrived in London last December, returning to the capital after her last posting here in 1990. “The weather has been so much better this time! That was the coldest year of my life,” she recalls. The other major change is Brexit. “Having grown up in a situation of war and celebrating Europe Day each year, it’s been a surprise that people wanted to leave.”

Whilst she was growing up, Namibia was a colony and she had no concept of diplomacy. But Ms Scott’s anti-apartheid activities with the church led naturally to studying Politics and Anthropology at university. Having taught English for a year, she joined the Foreign Ministry just after independence in 1990. “I found myself in London aged 26, sometimes as acting High Commissioner. From here, I went to Cuba, also to open the mission there.” She was fortunate to become Personal Assistant to the then Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, (now the Deputy Prime Minister), Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah who was the Rapporteur to the Beijing Conference on Women in 1995. This became “an ongoing theme for our government.” She continues, “The Presidency had an office on Women Affairs, which then became a fully-fledged Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare. As a member of the UN Security Council in 2000, we introduced Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security…The aim was to bring women into leadership positions, so they are at the negotiating table. Today, under President Hage Geingob, we have almost 50/50 men and women in Parliament.”

Postings followed in Sweden, Belgium, Botswana, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. After a stint as Director of Multilateral Affairs back home, Ms Scott was sent to New York as Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN. Namibia focused on four areas of particular concern to the country. Firstly, Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought under the UNCCD and SDG 11. “Right now, Namibia has one of the worst droughts ever.” Secondly, women, peace and security. “Thirdly, when our President came to power, he declared a war on poverty.” Finally, trade and investment. “All our efforts are working towards eradicating poverty and uplifting society,” she remarks.

As High Commissioner in the UK, she’ll be focusing on trade and investment. “As part of the oldest customs union in the world, SACU, (with South Africa, Botswana and Lesotho) we are now feeling the delayed effects of the financial crisis. I will encourage investment not only for Namibia, but using Namibia as a gateway into, and as a hub for, this region of 250 million people. Of course,” she continues, “We must also mitigate the Brexit impact for the region. But Namibia has a relationship with Norway, which is not part of the EU. We are using that model within SACU to set up what needs to be in place for the coming events.”

Ms Scott will also highlight the unique charms of Namibia’s tourism: “The size of Germany and France together, Namibia has a population of just 2.5 million people. We have the oldest desert in the world, the world’s highest dunes and the second largest canyon. I must also strengthen cultural diplomacy with the UK, so there’s a lot to do.”

The Commonwealth is fundamental for Namibia’s foreign policy. “We are the first country where a review was conducted on how we’ve benefited from our membership. It’s very interesting reading.”

Namibia is not without some great challenges though.  Aside from its small population, Namibia had the fewest schools of any African country at the time of Independence. “Educating our huge youth population is essential so that people are aware of our resources, talents and what we can offer the broader international community,” she says. “Using our small resources – both financial and human – to their greatest impact and effectiveness has been a huge challenge.”

Aside from her diplomatic career, the High Commissioner has achieved her life coaching qualifications, which she plans to use after retirement from the foreign service. “Another highlight,” she says, “has been completing my master’s in Governance and Political Transformation. Being a Mum, working full time and studying was such a challenge. My two boys have lived in 10 countries. With a diplomatic career, you also need to take time to focus on family.”

So surely there can be no time for hobbies? On the contrary, Ms Scott just completed translating the diaries of a priest sent by the Catholic Church to Southern Africa in 1866.  “He was a botanist and scientist, and the size of his parish boggles the mind. It stretched from the middle of Angola to the south of Namibia and the middle of Botswana. So, I’m currently looking for a publisher.”

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