Johannesburg - South African packaging firm Nampak reported a 10 percent rise in first-half profit on Tuesday, helped by rising demand in African countries beyond its home market.

Like many South African companies, Nampak is looking to expand on the fast-growing African continent to offset slower growth at home, where crippling mining strikes and high debt levels have blunted consumer spending.

The company cautioned that South Africa - which contributed three-quarters of its revenue last year - would “remain challenging” in the near future, helping send its shares down 3 percent to 36.05 rand by 14:03 SA time.

Nampak, which makes plastic crates, toothpaste tubes and the aluminium cans used for soft drinks, said headline earnings totalled 114.3 cents a share in the six months to end-March, from 103.6 cents a year earlier.

Revenue from continuing operations increased 12 percent to 9.8 billion rand.

The company said it was buoyed by improvement in its Angola business and by the its metals and paper operations in Nigeria. Nampak this year finalised the purchase of Nigerian beverage can manufacturer for around $300 million.

Separately, data on Tuesday showed that South Africa's economy contracted for the first time since 2009, hit by a massive decline in output from the strike-hit platinum mining sector. - Reuters