In our series of letters from African journalists, BBC Africa's Komla Dumor takes issue with the frustrations of the continent's bureaucracy.
A few years ago I had an interesting conversation with an Ethiopian businessman as I was sitting at a bar in a hotel in Addis Ababa.
He had come over and introduced himself, telling me that he was an exporter of meat products and business was going well.
I asked him where his major markets were; he responded: "Mainly the UAE and Gulf region."
What about other African countries I enquired.
He gave me a quizzical look as if I was asking him a silly question.
He then explained why it was cheaper to send his products to the Gulf than across the border to another African country.