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1.1billion reasons why light poverty must be eradicated

Across the globe the combined populations of Birmingham and Bristol die needlessly every year through light poverty, says Eric Rondolat of Philips Lighting.

The resourcefulness of the human race never ceases to surprise. We’re learning how to 3D print human organs; travelling in self-driving cars; and recently landed a spacecraft on the surface of a comet more than 500 million kilometers away.

Yet, for all of these triumphs of ingenuity, we live in a world where 1.1 billion people – more than one in seven – still do not have access to electric light.

The lack of this most fundamental service puts a stranglehold on human development. Without artificial light, life as we know it grinds to a halt at sunset. Communal life stops, children are unable to study, and businesses are forced to close.

Deprived of electric light, people resort to candles, kerosene lamps and fires to counter darkness – all too often with devastating consequences. These primitive light sources claim the lives of 1.5million people every year through fires and respiratory illnesses – the same number killed annually by HIV related illnesses.

Light poverty and the millions of associated deaths are avoidable – the technology to balance this inequality is all around us and taken for granted across most of the world. In those countries blighted by light poverty, the difficulty lies in administering the cure, not in creating it.

At first glance, the obvious solution might appear to be for affected countries to invest in electric grids and power plants to provide a reliable energy supply – and thus light – to all their citizens. However, the geography of many developing nations makes this simply unfeasible both logistically and financially. Furthermore, in many of those communities deemed to have access to electricity, erratic grid connections regularly plunge homes and businesses into darkness without warning.

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The Telegraph | By Eric Rondolat, Chief Executive Officer, Philips Lighting 2015

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