UDINE, ITALY – A group of 30 African delegates visited the headquarters of an Italian wood and furniture research center to discuss future prospects for their continent.

“Africa is the future of our industry; a historical cycle that requires a priority: to share a common language, enabling us to work together starting from the same parameters and the same reference points,” said Paolo Fantoni, president of the European Panel Federation, who sponsored the event.

At the two-day conference, Fantoni introduced the “EPF for Africa” initiative, which will work to deepen mutual understanding, and to highlight the great potential of a deeper relationship between the European economies and those of African countries in the field of engineered wood. Fantoni said speaking the same language and sharing precise standards are essential.

The 30 delegates – who came from Algeria, Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Nigeria and Kenya – were taught specific reference standards, control procedures, and proper tests to perform on raw materials and finished products.

Fantoni said that North African countries are experiencing an important demographic cycle, strong urban planning, and housing growth. He hopes Italy will be there preferred industry destination.

“We have met extremely competent technicians”, said Andrea Giavon, managing director of the research laboratory Catas. “These two days have been really intense – it was a sort of continuous seminar that on one hand allowed us to inform our African colleagues on the standards and the test that Catas adopts and offers to the market and, secondly, it was for us an important opportunity to understand what and how many possibilities actually exist in the African continent.

“Speaking with panel manufacturers, standardization delegates, laboratories technicians and representatives of trade associations gave us further confirmation that there are already many opportunities to jointly prepare some projects, which may have an unquestionable significance in both economic and social-cultural scenario,” continued Giavon.

Over the two days, Catas presented technical and regulatory framework protocols of standardization and testing, involving all the operational departments of the center with specific visits and ad hoc demonstrations.