Berhan Ahmed

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Berhan Ahmed
Alma materLaTrobe University, University of Melbourne
Occupationsocial activist
Years active1990s–present

Berhan Ahmed is an Eritrean-Australian social activist. He is the chairman of the African Think Tank,[1] and in 2004 was the first immigrant born in Africa to run for an Australian parliamentary office.[2] Ahmed was also presented the 2009 Victorian Australian of the Year award.[3]


Ahmed was born in Eritrea. He became a refugee at age 15 during the civil war and fled to Sudan. After attending high school with funding from the UNHCR, he gained a degree in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Alexandria in Egypt.[4]

At the age of 22, Ahmed sought asylum in Australia, eventually settling in Melbourne. He drove a taxi and worked as a tram conductor, while earning a master's degree in Animal Science at La Trobe University.[5] Ahmed worked for a decade at the CSIRO, and also gained a PhD in forest sciences at the University of Melbourne.[2] He was latterly a senior research fellow at the Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science, and retains an honorary appointment at the university.[6]

Scholarly contributions[edit]

Ahmed's research concerns termite taxonomy and their effects on crops, trees, and wood products. He has developed termite distribution and taxonomies, and contributed to an integrated termite pest management (IPM) system. Termites' own engineering can also inform better water and soil management by government, industry and the public. For the protection of infrastructure from wood boring termites, Ahmed has contributed to the development of the impermeable Granitgard technology, now included in the current Australian Standard (AS 3660.1 – 2000) for the protection of new and existing buildings.[7]

Political and community work[edit]

Ahmed, originally a member of the Labor Party, ran for the Senate in 2004 for the Greens. He left that party soon afterwards.[8]

Ahmed received four percent of the vote as an independent candidate for the 2012 Melbourne state by-election. Whilst he came sixth out of 16 candidates, he came third after eliminated candidate preferences with 15.9 percent. Ahmed had recommended preferencing Labor over the Greens on his how-to-vote card. Two thirds of his 15.9 percent primary and preference votes favoured Labor, putting Labor ahead of the Greens to win the seat.[9]

In 2012, Ahmed ran for the council of the City of Melbourne, polling 2.45%.[10] Robert Doyle was elected mayor.

Ahmed is the chairman of the Victoria-based Africa Think Tank,[1] which serves migrant and refugee communities from Africa.[11] He is involved in public advocacy on cultural issues, racism and human rights.[12]



  1. ^ a b Ife, Holly (4 October 2007). "African refugees scoring home runs". The Herald Sun. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  2. ^ a b "African Think Tank Chairperson Honoured as 2009 Victorian of the Year". Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Victoria's Australian of the Year award recipients announced". Archived from the original on 6 May 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  6. ^ "Melbourne University Profile Page". Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Crook, Andrew (20 July 2012). "Melbourne candidate claims ALP traded lobbying for preferences". The Power Index. Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  9. ^ Melbourne by-election distribution of preferences: VEC
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-08-08. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  12. ^