Accessibility links

US Company Shines Light on Liberia’s Electricity Needs

  • Kim Lewis

As the Ebola crisis continues to devastate Liberia’s fledgling healthcare system, a northern Virginia based company is shining a light on the solution.

American Light Works sells thousands of their sun-powered bulbs around the world. They provide wide-beam illumination, lighting a small room or an area in a clinic.

Mark Bent is the CEO of American Light Works. He said Liberia’s emergency is just the kind of situation the lights were designed for, and even before the Ebola crisis, the country had one of the lowest rates of electrical grid distribution in the world.

“One of the easiest things for us to do here in the developed world is to take lighting for granted. Monrovia has less than one percent of the population with access to the electrical grid, and the rest of the country has nothing at all. So the ability to light the night for the Liberian people, caring for the people that are afflicted by Ebola is absolutely huge,” explained Bent.

He also highlighted that lights have multiple impacts on people.

“Without having any lighting at night and having decimated health care systems, the ability for families to take care of ill patients—if someone has an injury at night—if someone is sick from something else, the lights make a huge amount of difference in the way that you care for people,” said the ceo who had lived in Africa for 20 years.

“One of the areas that people really don’t understand is that how incredibly dark it gets without any ambient light what-so-ever. And the alternatives are kerosene lanterns which are expensive, dangerous. The soot is inhaled and is bad for people’s health. The other two alternatives are either diesel generators, people don’t have, or conventional flash lights,” Bent explained.

The solar powered high tech lights are completely waterproof, provide lighting all night long, and are easy to use.

“The best way to look at them is actually a portable solar-powered light bulb,” said Bent.

The American Light Works CEO has a long history with Liberia and he said the project is not just a cause, but a personal legacy. While serving as a US diplomat in 1989 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Bent said he was heavily involved in reporting on neighboring Liberia’s first civil war.

“I have a great familiarity with Liberia and the people of Liberia. It would really be great to help them out by getting lights to them,” emphasized Bent.