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The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: Media Narratives and State Building

Yeshiwas Degu Belay, Emanuele Fantini, Iginio Gagliardone


This article explores how Ethiopian mainstream media portray the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), perhaps the most relevant materialisation of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)’s developmental state approach. Through critical discourse analysis of a sample of articles from private media outlets from 2013 to 2020, we map the plurality of narratives employed by the media to represent the GERD and the Nile river. We analyse how changes and continuities in these narratives are related to the process of state building in Ethiopia, and to the unfolding of political events in the Easter-Nile basin. We conclude by pointing at how the continuity in the narratives about the GERD resonate with state-building discourses and strategies under different political regimes.

Keywords: GERD, state-building, media, Ethiopia, Nile, hydropolitics.