Kathmandu (AFP) - Nepal's Maoist-run government has declared a "national power crisis" and warned that blackouts in the impoverished country will increase to at least 16 hours per day, officials said Friday. Nepal is struggling to recover from a civil war waged by the Maoists who now govern the country after winning elections earlier this year, and the Himalayan country can currently meet only around 50 per cent of its electricity needs. "We had no other alternatives than to declare national power crisis because there is a severe shortage of electricity," Bishnu Poudel, minister for water resources said Thursday evening. The government will import more electricity from neighbouring India as well as set up diesel-powered generators and attempt to attract more investment in hydro electricity projects, the minister said. "It will still take at least five years to free the country from power shortages if everything works out as planned," said Poudel. An official from the Nepal Electricity Authority said electricity demand had been outstripping supply for years in the mountainous country dotted with Himalayan rivers, which has massive untapped potential for hydro power. "In the last eight or nine years the demand for electricity has been increasing by around 10 percent per year, but we have not been able to bring in new hydropower projects," said Sher Singh Bhat, spokesman for the state-run Nepal Electricity Authority told AFP on Friday. Nepal relies on hydro power for most of its electricity and as the dry season approaches in early 2009, power cuts will increase, said Bhat. "From next week, the power cuts will be increased to 12 hours per day and by mid-February it will be a minimum of 16 hours per day," said Bhat. Around 40 per cent of Nepal's 28 million people have access to electricity.