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ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — Ghana's movie stars have joined blue-collar workers in demonstrations against power cuts, marching through the streets of the capital to demand an end to this West African nation's ongoing energy crisis.
A march on Saturday in an eastern section of the capital, Accra, was spearheaded by Yvonne Nelson, an actress, model and beauty pageant contestant who helped popularize the hashtag #DumsorMustStop on Twitter and other social media applications. Dumsor is a word in the local Twi language used for irregular power blackouts.
On Saturday, Nelson wore a black T-shirt featuring the hashtag and a floppy black sunhat as she joined hundreds of other demonstrators, many of whom also dressed in black and carried torches and lanterns to signal their frustration with the erratic power supply.
She was accompanied by celebrities including actor Van Vicker, who stars in Nigerian films. It was the first time stars had taken on Ghana's government over the issue.
"I have lost my job as a machine operator in a paint manufacturing company because of this power cut," said 54-year-old marcher Samuel Addo.
"It is like the government does not want to do anything and this protest is a message to President John Mahama that we are fed up," Addo said.
Unpredictable outages lasting as long as 48 hours have been a fact of life in Ghana for the past three years. The government has blamed a lack of capacity for the cuts and says it is working to fix the problem.
Last month, the International Monetary Fund approved a $918 million loan to Ghana, warning that the country's economic growth was at risk because of factors including power cuts.
Ghana's economic growth exceeded 9 percent in 2011 but fell to an estimated 4.2 percent last year, according to the IMF.
Around 3,000 people have already been laid off as a result of the cuts, and as many as 5,000 workers could lose their jobs by September if the situation does not improve, Ghana's Chamber of Commerce and Industry warned last month.