General Director of ARA

Biography and Mission Statement

of the Chief Executive Officer and Director General of

Afghanistan Railway Authority

Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,


Director of ARA


Early Life and Education

Mr. Mohammad Yamma Shams was born in 1980 in Kabul, Afghanistan. His parents are Pashtun from Kandahar: his father was retired as a Brigadier, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; his mother worked for Ariana Airlines. Due to the situation in Kabul, Shams’ family migrated to Quetta, Pakistan, in 1988, from where he passed out from St Stephen’s High School in 1999.

He did an Intermediate Associate Degree in Computer Science from Science College in 2002, and a Bachelors in Political Science from Baluchistan University, Quetta, in 2005.

In March 2006 he got a Master’s Degree Scholarship through the Ministry of Higher Education of Afghanistan, and did an Executive MBA in International Management at the International Management Institute in New Delhi, India, which gave him a perspective of the global economic scenario.

Early Professional Service

Shams has been visiting Afghanistan frequently since 2004 to contribute to the reconstruction of the nation. He provided advisory support to the Governor of Kandahar and the Minister for Urban Development for the development of Afghanistan National Development Strategic (ANDS) planning.

Shams returned to Kabul in June 2005 to work in the Chief of Staff’s office in the Ministry for Urban Development and Housing. He played a significant role in capacity building for the ministry, planning and project management and represented the ministry in the DDR High Commission as Commission’s Secretary under UNDP.

In August 2005 Shams joined as the Minister’s Office Manager in the Ministry of Public Works (MoPW), and was also the key liaison to Parliament. He helped coordinate with national and international ministries and institutions to attract funds for transport infrastructure.

In May 2007 Shams re-joined the MoPW as Senior Expert, Admin and Finance to the Minister, providing technical advisory and legal aid support, and trained and made significant contributions to the capacity building of individuals and organizations.

In September 2008 he joined the Independent Civil Services Commission supported by the World Bank as Reform Implementation Coordinator for MoPW, which advanced his knowledge of the transport sector. Key achievements were an assessment of the transport sector, development of key business processes and critical success factors for the organization. He learnt policy making at the macro-economic level. Shams steered the policy making and agenda-setting.

In 2010, Mr. Shams evolved as the Transport appointed Director for Capacity Building. Under the leadership of the Minister he improved donor coordination, provided technical assistance, and initiated major reforms. Shams played a pivotal role in the development of several special-purpose transportation instruments on concept development and fundraising.

Shams contributed to national development and futuristic possibilities of the transport infrastructure in the Country and for the Region.

Rise in the Afghanistan Railway Authority

Demonstrated achievements got Shams the post of Director General and CEO, Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA) in 2012, a new authority faced with enormous challenges. He led the team effectively to implement the targets of two operational freight corridors as part of the ongoing Afghanistan National Railway Plan, and has had many accomplishments.

Mr. Shams has developed the organizational structure at the central and provincial levels. He got memberships of UIC, OSJD, ASEAN, CoTIF, etc. and got more than 31 MoUs signed in 59 international trips. Prefeasibility and feasibility studies for more than 4,000 km of railway track in four corridors have been completed, the western freight corridor with Iran would be operational in 2017, and infrastructure development will be done for more than 2,000 km in the three or four years.

Shams commenced the integration of regional railway connectivity. The development of over 150 ARA staff has improved operations and maintenance (O&M). The O&M of the Hairatan–Mazar-e-Sharif Freight Corridor was evaluated at international standards, getting ISO 9001 certification, and generating revenue of US$125 million since 2011.

Since 2009 Mr. Shams has actively engaged with the UN Institute for Training and Research in the Capacity Creation of Fellows by providing coaching and for training Afghan youths for the public and private sectors, adding value to their management and leadership qualities.

Commitment to the Development of the Nation and Region

Under the guidance of the government and H.E. the President, ARA developed the vision of ANRP 2030 for construction of over 5,000 km of new railway routes, eight dry ports, and four multi-modal hubs.

Railways are the key to Afghanistan’s development in the Afghanistan Infrastructure Plan (2017–30) and the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF). Shams has been actively pursuing different Regionally Sponsored Infrastructure Projects through RECCA (Regional Economic Cooperation, Afghanistan).

Mr. Shams has had total commitment to the development of the transport sector, in line with the vision of Afghanistan National Peace Development Framework and NPP (National Priority Programme ) on Strategic Policy and Infrastructure development –especially in the railway sector. His thinking out of the box helped design and development of the public–private partnership (PPP) policy to spur investment. His contributions have been acknowledged nationally and internationally.

Mr. Shams is leading the railway sector to enable:


Workshops and Seminars

Mr. Mohammad Yamma Shams has contributed to the development of roadways and railways by the Leadership and Management Youth Development Program me, and participating in more than 70 national and international seminars, amongst many other achievements.

MESSAGE of the CEO and DG of ARA

“The Facilitation of Trade/Transit/Transportation and the Revival of Afghanistan’s Glory through Sustainable Railway Sector Development, to Re-Establish the Pride of the New Silk Routes Connecting the Commonwealth of Independent States with the West, with South Asia and Europe through Regional and International Cooperation Programs on Railway Infrastructure Development.”