"We are there because we have a shared destiny with the Sahel. If the Sahel falls into the hands of terrorism, Africa will gradually fall into the hands of Islamic terrorists and Europe will live the consequences," said Macron.
The shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea is the first maritime disaster in 2021 involving migrants and refugees seeking better lives in Europe.
Reports say fire services were delayed in arriving at the scene and took two hours to bring the blaze under control.
Restrictions on the right to work and acquire assets hamper the ability for refugees to become self-reliant. The coronavirus pandemic has made a dire situation even worse in the absence of humanitarian aid or personal income.
France's citizenship minister Marlene Schiappa criticised "smugglers who take advantage of the distress of human beings".