An Investigation of National and International Press Coverage of Ethiopia’s Decision to Construct the Grand Renaissance Dam on the Nile River

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Addis Ababa University


The overriding purpose of this study was to examine the national and international press coverage of Ethiopia’s decision to construct the GERD project on the Nile River. Theories of agenda setting, framing and political economy of mass media have been employed as theoretical frameworks for this study. Drawing on a six-month textual data, an analysis and interpretation of three newspapers, one from each major Eastern Nile basin member countries (i.e., Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan) was conducted. Besides, three informants, one from each of the aforementioned countries were selected and interviewed, to triangulate the information gained via content analysis. The result of the study revealed that Addis Zemen has provided an exceedingly considerable amount of coverage for the GERD project than Al Ahram Weekly and Sudan Vision newspapers. Development and diplomacy were found to be the frequently reported themes. Government officials were employed as major sources of information, simultaneously. The media generally covered the dam positively or neutrally. The selected press outlets mostly framed the GERD in terms of economic consequences, diagnostic, mutual benefit and prognostic frames. Political challenge was found to be a major problem, while national consensus, electricity generation and bi(multi)lateral relations improvements were identified as major opportunities. What is more, the press coverage on the GERD project shows that those three newspapers have had a tendency towards favoring their country’s national interest over the handling of this supranational issue, i.e., the dam. Based on the study, a couple of recommendations that might help to lessen the limitations of the press are suggested.



Grand Renaissance Dam